Trucks loaded with supplies including soap, diapers, towels and slippers were headed to Bangladeshi refugee camps sheltering nearly 380,000 Rohingyas, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) said on Thursday.
According to Unicef estimates, children and adolescents made up 60 per cent of the 379,000 Rohingyas who arrived in Bangladesh since August 25, fleeing violence in Myanmar, among whom 23 per cent were below the age of 5, Efe news reported.
“We have a monumental task ahead of us to protect these extremely vulnerable children,” said Edouard Beigbeder, Unicef’s Representative in Bangladesh.
The current humanitarian crisis began following an August 25 attack by the insurgent Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on police and military posts in the northwestern state of Rakhine that had led to a violent offensive by the Myanmar Army.
Meanwhile, ARSA’s offer of a month-long ceasefire last week to allow the entry of humanitarian assistance was rejected by the Myanmar government.
A similar incident in October between rebels and Myanmar security forces triggered an exodus of more than 80,000 Rohingyas.
Before the crisis erupted, between 300,000 and 500,000 Rohingyas were living in Bangladesh, out of whom only 32,000 enjoyed refugee status, living concentrated in refugee camps in the Cox’s Bazar district.