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Malnutrition is killing Rohingya children as thousands migrate to Bangladesh

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The United Nations confirmed in a report that more than 3,000 desperate Rohingya refugees have crossed over to Bangladesh from Myanmar in the past two days.

An agency of the world organization said their partners are working day and night to assist the tired and hungry immigrants by providing them with food, medication and shelter.

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“Most people I talked to walked for eight to ten days to get to the border,” Olivia Headon, a press officer for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said Friday, adding: “They had nothing to eat or drink after the first few days.”

Media reports confirm that over 820,000 Rohingya refugees have already found shelter in some safety in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, where over 607,320 have arrived since 25 August.

Thousands are leaving their homes to stay alive since violence erupted in their communities located in Myanmar’s Northern Rakhine state since late August.

Ms. Olivia said most of the new arrivals are desperate to find their missing family members who crossed over the border earlier.

She explained that the new arrivals would left Myanmar before now, but had to wait and sell out their grain to raise some money for their journey. One of the refugees said he had to pay someone to carry his aged mother.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and partners have distributed tokens, direct food supplies, and offered medical care for those at the Anjuman Para border crossing.

A reception area at Balukhali in the Bangladeshi city of Cox’s Bazar, run by the IOM, is providing emergency assistance and self-settlement kits to improve living condition for the new arrivals.

UNHCR is also scaling up relief efforts to cope with the new influx of refugees around Kutupalong camp near Cox’s Bazar.

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“More than 2,000 of them have moved towards UNHCR’s transit centre near Kutupalong camp, including some vulnerable refugees who were taken by bus,” Babar Baloch, UNHCR spokesperson told reporters at the regular press briefing in Geneva.

He added that this “comes as our staff just relocated over 400 recent arrivals to a new extension to Kutupalong camp.”

In related news, preliminary data from a nutrition assessment conducted last week at Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar shows a 7.5 per cent prevalence of life-threatening severe acute malnutrition – a rate double that seen among Rohingya child refugees in May 2017, UNICEF said.

“The Rohingya children in the camp – who have survived horrors in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state and a dangerous journey here – are to already caught up in a catastrophe,” said UNICEF Bangladesh Representative Edouard Beigbeder. “Those with severe malnutrition are now at risk of dying from an entirely preventable and treatable cause.”

UNICEF and partners are treating over 2,000 acutely malnourished children at 15 treatment centers, with six additional centers currently being set up. The agency is also working with health partners to identify and treat diarrhea and pneumonia, and will be conducting mass vaccination and nutrition screening campaigns this month.

“The humanitarian community needs to be able to do far more to treat and protect these extremely vulnerable children,” Mr. Beigbeder said.

“For that we need far more attention to the crisis, and far more resources for the response. These children need help right now.”

Click here to make a donation for Rohingya refugees.

The International Rescue Committee said on its website that they’re on ground in Myanmar and Bangladesh providing as many families as possible with water, food security, protection, and health care. Your support today will help IRC extend help to other war-torn countries.

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