GENEVA – The United Nations’ children’s fund said on Friday that thousands of moderately or severely malnourished children were among the Rohingya refugees who have arrived in Bangladesh fleeing from ethnic persecution in Myanmar, needing urgent medical attention to save their lives.
UNICEF workers have examined 59,604 children among the 604,000 Rohingya refugees who have reached Bangladesh since Aug. 25.
According to their findings, 1,970 of those children suffer from severe acute malnutrition and 7,000 from moderate acute malnutrition, UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado said.
The organization has set up 15 treatment and nutrition centers, including a mobile one, and six more are set to be established in a new, 3,000-hectare (7,413-acre) refugee camp called Kutupalong Extension.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has instructed the transfer of 1,700 recently-arrived refugees to Kutupalong Extension.
According to Mercado, almost 2,000 children with severe acute malnutrition have already been treated.
The spokesperson said that many children reach Bangladesh in an already malnourished state.
In the state of Rakhine in Myanmar, the rates of malnutrition in the cities of Maungdaw and Buthidaung, where most of the refugees hail from, were already higher than the emergency threshold before the new wave of violence broke out on Aug. 25.
Since that date, the UNICEF has had to stop treating some 4,000 severely malnourished children in northern Rakhine due to lack of access.
However, World Food Programme – a UN agency – does have access to the region, as confirmed by spokesperson Bettina Luescher, who said on Friday that Myanmar has permitted the agency to restart the distribution of food there after a period of two months.
Mercado also said that cases of measles had been detected among the recently-arrived refugees as well as those who had been living in temporary shelters before Aug. 25.
She added that despite the recent vaccination campaign against cholera, the risk of diarrheal diseases and dysentery remained exceptionally high.
World Health Organization spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said that the second phase of the vaccination campaign against cholera for children between one and five years of age will begin on Nov. 4 and will target some 180,000 children.