Dhaka Courier

Child protection in Rohingya camps still a priority

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Children represent 55pc of all Rohingyas; 3.43 lakh need protection

As children face “protection risks”, including psychosocial distress, neglect, abuse, separation from caregivers, sexual violence, child marriage and labour, child protection system will remain a priority in Rohingya camps this year as well.

Rapid and effective humanitarian action under the leadership of the government of Bangladesh has saved many lives since August 2017 and met critical needs and protected nearly one million Rohingyas, according to UN agencies.

Launched in Geneva on February 15 to deal with Rohingya humanitarian crisis, the 2019 Joint Response Plan (JRP) contains a “dedicated objective” to that end, said an official.

Steps will be taken in coordination with the Department of Social Services (DSS) to strengthen the child protection system, including linkages to, and improved quality of, government-led service delivery, said the official.

Children represent 55 percent of all Rohingyas of which 343,206 are in need of immediate child protection assistance, according to the JRP.

Rohingya children are experiencing high levels of distress after witnessing extreme violence in Myanmar, as well as being exposed to continued stressful living conditions.

As of October 2018, the JRP reveals, some 6,100 unaccompanied and separated children have been registered and are at heightened risk of child trafficking, abuse and exploitation in the camps.

Girls, who represent a larger proportion (57%14) of this vulnerable group, are particularly at risk of child marriage, sexual exploitation, abuse and neglect, the JRP mentions.

There remains a high need for robust family-based alternative care arrangements for unaccompanied and separated children, as well as family tracing and reunification and the provision of support to foster care families.

While much has been achieved, the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh has not fully stabilised, according to co-chairs of the strategic executive group - UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Mia Seppo, Representative of UNHCR in Bangladesh Steven Corliss and Chief of Mission, IOM Bangladesh Giorgi Gigauri.

The 2019 JRP, according to them, will be the vehicle for mobilising critically needed support for humanitarian response for the Rohingyas.

The JRP sets out a comprehensive programme shaped around three strategic objectives – deliver protection, provide life-saving assistance and foster social cohesion.

Priorities for the current year include supporting strengthened government leadership and accountability, including in the camps, and the effective participation of the Rohingya community in decisions affecting their lives.

In 2019, the government of Bangladesh and UNHCR will accelerate the ongoing joint verification exercise that will register the Rohingyas and provide them with individual documentation, in many cases for the first time.

More accurate data, disaggregated by age, sex, gender and other diversity factors, will facilitate planning and targeting of assistance and services, while biometric enrolment will strengthen the integrity of delivery.

UN aid agencies and NGO partners appealed for raising US$920 million to meet the massive needs of over 900,000 Rohingyas from Myanmar and over 330,000 vulnerable Bangladeshis in host communities.

The 2018 JRP was funded at 69 per cent, or US$655 million received against US$950 million requested, said the UN refugee agency – UNHCR.

The 2019 JRP is the third joint humanitarian appeal and builds on achievements made thus far in order to further stabilise the situation of Rohingyas.

ASEAN ‘invited’ to help repatriate Rohingyas

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been invited to extend help in the process of repatriation for “verified Rohingyas” from Bangladesh, according to a message received from Geneva.

A total of 2,260 Rohingyas of 485 families were supposed to be repatriated in the first phase as Bangladesh and Myanmar had agreed to begin their repatriation in mid-November last year which was halted due to lack of conducive environment in Rakhine State.

Bangladesh handed over a list of 1,673 Rohingya families or 8,032 individuals to Myanmar to start the first phase of repatriation of Rohingyas.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on February 22 reviewed the situation of Rohingya women and girls in northern Rakhine state, based on a report submitted by Myanmar under the exceptional reporting procedure.

Introducing the report, Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement of Myanmar Win Myat Aye said the situation in Rakhine state was highly complex and too complicated for outsiders to comprehend, and that any solution would require a thorough understanding of the local context and historical background, and most importantly, time.

The recommendations from the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, led by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, helped find a sustainable solution, he said, adding that the process of repatriation for verified residents of Myanmar from Bangladesh continued.

Myanmar was committed to ensuring accountability for human rights violations, including sexual violence, and stood willing and able to investigate allegations of crimes and human rights violations in its territory, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Committee will issue its concluding observations on the report of Myanmar at the end of its seventy-second session on March 8.

  • Child protection in Rohingya camps still a priority
  • Issue 34
  • AKM Moinuddin
  • Vol 35
  • DhakaCourier

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