NEW YORK (October 23, 2017) – Nearly two months since Rohingya families began fleeing en masse to Bangladesh, thousands of children and women are still without basic lifesaving services, UNICEF said today.

The warning comes as representatives of donor governments and humanitarian organizations meet in Geneva for a pledging conference aimed at drumming up resources for what remains a severely under-funded emergency. 

“The Rohingya refugee crisis shows no sign of abating,” said Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh. “The needs of refugees and those of the communities hosting them are increasing at a much faster pace than our capacity to respond. We need more resources and we need them now.”

Close to 1.2 million people – including new arrivals, Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar in previous escalations of violence, and vulnerable Bangladeshi communities – need humanitarian assistance in Cox’s Bazaar. Some 720,000 of them are children.

An estimated 450,000 Rohingya children aged 4-18 years old need education services, 270,000 of them from among the new arrivals.

Nearly 17,000 children with severe acute malnutrition need inpatient and outpatient treatment, and 120,000 pregnant and nursing women need nutritious supplementary food.

There is an acute shortage of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in the refugee settlements, with an average of 100 people per latrine.

“Given the current population density and poor sanitation and hygiene conditions, any outbreak of cholera or acute watery diarrhea, which are endemic in Bangladesh, could kill thousands of people residing in temporary settlements,” Beigbeder said.

Measles has been reported among the settled population as well as new arrivals. UNICEF is working towards accelerating the routine immunization schedule, which will include the host community.

There are also reports of parents and caregivers who say they are unable to care for their children because of their vulnerable emotional and psychological state. Many adolescents have taken on additional roles as caregivers and providers, helping with distributions, collecting firewood and caring for their elderly relatives or siblings. At least 900 children are living in child-headed households.

UNICEF is working with partners to provide vulnerable children with lifesaving support.

Since August 25:

  • UNICEF and partners have screened nearly 50,000 children under-five for malnutrition. Over 1,500 were found to suffer from severe acute malnutrition and almost all have received treatment.
  • Approximately 69,000 children aged 6-59 months received Vitamin A supplementation during the supplementary measles, rubella and polio immunization campaigns.
  • Close to 7,500 pregnant and nursing women received infant and young child feeding information critical to reducing undernutrition in infants and young children.
  • More than 700,000 people, including 180,000 children aged 1 to 5 years old, were vaccinated against cholera in a campaign launched on October 10. A second round will start early November to vaccinate 180,000 children against cholera and 220,000 against polio, both potentially fatal diseases that can spread quickly in camp settings.
  • UNICEF and partners have reached 128,000 with drinking water, 190,000 with sanitation services, and 37,000 with hygiene kits and jerry-cans.
  • More than 35,000 children are being reached with psychosocial support in 106 child-friendly spaces.
  • UNICEF has reached more than 22,000 children, including 8,500 new arrivals, with learning opportunities.

The needs are massive and growing, but funding remains extremely limited. UNICEF has received only 11 percent of the $76 million it needs to provide lifesaving humanitarian assistance to affected children and women.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. UNICEF USA supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit

For more information, contact:
Sophie Aziakou, UNICEF USA, 917.720.1397,