Rohingya Refugee Crisis | UNICEF USA

900,000 Rohingya Refugees Struggle for a Future

In 2017, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled violence in Myanmar for Bangladesh. Now a generation of children face uncertain futures.

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Umme's Story
12-year-old Rohingya refugee Umme and her family fled the mass killings of their people in Myanmar for safety in Bangladesh. But, now with monsoon season here, she may be up against another fight for her life.
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Lifesaving Support for Rohingya Refugees
Brutal violence forced Rohingya refugee Momtas and her family to flee Myanmar for Bangladesh. Now she struggles to feed her children. UNICEF is providing food supplements and nutritional counseling to help refugee children survive.
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Water Report
UNICEF is working hard to provide Rohingya refugee children with clean water and protect them from disease. Watch Jean-Jacques Simon, UNICEF Bangladesh, explain how “Water is at the center of this humanitarian crisis.”
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"Houses were burning. There were rocket launchers. They were killing people after arresting them, that’s why we fled here.” —Umme, 12

No child should have to tell this story, but it’s an all-too-familiar one in the Bangladesh refugee settlements, where UNICEF is helping Rohingya survivors of what former United Nations Human Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

The Rohingya are a Muslim minority community that has lived for centuries in Myanmar, where they have long suffered persecution. In August 2017, after they became the targets of a military-led campaign of brutal violence, over 910,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state into Bangladesh, joining nearly 300,000 people who fled Myanmar in a previous exodus. They settled in Cox’s Bazar, where hills were quickly cleared of trees and vegetation to accommodate the massive influx of traumatized families and children. 

The deforestation made room for the hastily erected shelters where the Rohingya now live. But it also created conditions that are ripe for disaster during monsoon season when the torrential downpours, winds, flooding and landslides take their toll on the infrastructure that UNICEF and partners have built to support families struggling to eke out an existence.

During 2019's monsoon season, some 750 UNICEF-supported learning centers were impacted, putting 60,000 children’s education on hold. Torrential rainfall wholly submerged at least one playground, and families struggled to remove the mud that landslides sent pouring into their homes. Water and sanitation facilities, including 600 latrines, were damaged, increasing the risk of dangerous waterborne diseases. 

Conditions are particularly harsh during monsoon season. But even under the "best" conditions, Cox's Bazar is no place for a child. That doesn't stop UNICEF from doing everything in its power to keep children safe and healthy. 

Since the crisis began, UNICEF has worked with the Bangladesh government, delivering lifesaving humanitarian relief to Rohingya children as well as those affected who live in Bangladeshi host communities. In 2019, that support included:

  • Education services for nearly 220,000 children between the ages of 4 and 14

  • UNICEF-supported newborn stabilization units where over 4,600 sick babies received treatment and lifesaving care

  • Pentavalent 3 vaccinations to protect over 37,000 babies 11 months and under from diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza type b (DTP-hepB-Hib)

  • ​Nutrition-enhancing Vitamin A supplements for over 150,000 children under 5

  • Clean, safe drinking water for 400,000 Rohingya refugees 

  • Counseling and emotional support for nearly 80,000 children 

  • At 16 safe spaces, over 34,000 teen girls and women, who were at risk for or already experiencing violence, received lifesaving interventions, service referrals and skills training 

UNICEF needs your support to continue that critical work in 2020 to help the more than 500,000 children who need humanitarian aid.  Please lend your support so children who have already suffered unimaginable horror can have what they need to stay healthy, safe and hopeful about better days ahead.