Rohingya Refugee Crisis | UNICEF USA

900 Thousand Rohingya Refugees Struggle for a Future

One year ago, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled violence in Myanmar for Bangladesh. Now a generation of children face uncertain futures.

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“The route to school gets slippery,” says Rashidullah. Monsoon rains aren’t enough to keep Rashidullah from the UNICEF Learning Center.

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“I had never heard of vaccination,” says Mustapha. But thanks to UNICEF, all her children are now vaccinated.

Meet Mustapha

“When I dance and sing I am most happy,” says Sehera. She attends one of the 795 UNICEF learning centers.

Meet Sehera
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.
Read Umme's Full Story
Rohingya Refugees Struggling for a Future
“They’re not refugees, they’re not migrants. They are children. We’re grown-ups, and we need to find a solution.” - UNICEF USA CEO Caryl M. Stern
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Lifesaving Support for Rohingya Refugees
Mass killings 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.
Read Momtas' Full Story
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

This is a story no child should tell. Yet, it’s an all-too-familiar one in the Bangladesh refugee settlements, where UNICEF is helping Rohingya survivors of what UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has deemed “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Now, Umme and hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Rohingya children like her are living in the path of a looming threat. With monsoon season here, the overcrowded temporary settlements they call home could be swept away, subjecting the 700,000 refugees already requiring humanitarian assistance to even greater risk.

Situated on cleared land that barely holds the 702,000 Rohingya who've arrived since August, refugees' tents perch on barren hillsides that heavy rains could turn to mud. Some 200,000 people live in areas vulnerable to landslides and flooding, which if severe could destroy the camps’ fragile sanitation infrastructure and contaminate the water supply. For the thousands of children who've arrived malnourished with weakened immune systems, the spread of disease and waterborne illnesses could pose great danger.

UNICEF is now mobilizing to keep Rohingya children safe, healthy and dry during cyclone season. Vital infrastructure is being reinforced and medical supplies prepositioned to handle the rise of illnesses like cholera — an acute diarrhoeal disease that can kill a child within hours if not treated. The water supply is being treated, and supplies families will need to keep their water safe and clean — hygiene kits, water purification tablets, chlorine, soap and buckets — stockpiled. Vaccination teams are administering the oral cholera vaccine to 1.1 million people, and community volunteers are fanning out to educate families about how to protect themselves.

But it’s a race against time to spare Umme and Rohingya refugee children like her another fight for their lives.

“I’ve been in some difficult places,” says Martin Worth, UNICEF’s Head of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. “But this could get so much worse. What is already a dire humanitarian situation could become a catastrophe.”