We are appalled to learn that there are around 40,000 orphans among the three lakh children in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. These unfortunate children have lost either one or both parents in the brutal persecution of Rohingyas in Myanmar's Rakhine State that has forced over six lakh Rohingyas to flee their homes and take refuge in Bangladesh. One can only imagine the trauma these children have gone through and continue to suffer as they await an uncertain future.
So what can be done to save the lives of these hapless children who are also vulnerable to disease and death because of the acute malnutrition that most of the children in these camps suffer from? Save the Children estimates another 48,000 babies to be born this year in these squalid, unhygienic camps. How will these babies survive?
It is heartening to know that the social welfare ministry, in collaboration with Unicef, has initiated a Tk 17.22 crore project that will give financial support to around 9,000 orphans. The project will have 90 child protection committees to supervise around 34,000 children. Centres under this project will educate children about child trafficking, reproductive health and try to protect them from violence.
But the huge number of children who fall under this category of being “orphaned” makes it obvious that this project has to be expanded significantly to provide protection to all these children. Here we emphasise the role and responsibility of our government and the international community to come up with immediate plans to address the needs of not only the orphans but all the children in these camps including the ones yet to be born. As a global community, we have a moral responsibility to protect these children from hunger, disease, violence and despair.