Myanmar crisis: Concerns for children rise as refugee numbers hit 800,000

The number of refugees arriving in Bangladesh from Myanmar has now topped the 800,000 figure, international children's charity, World Vision has said.

In the last ten days alone, there has been an 18 per cent increase in the number of desperate people fleeing the Myanmar conflict, the charity's experts have noted.

Worryingly, over 1 in 5 refugees are under the age of five. There are already about 1,350 registered unaccompanied children. But the true figure is likely to be much, much higher.

They are hungry and alone. They are all at risk of malnutrition, disease, trauma, exploitation and abuse.

- Jared Barends, Senior Director of Operations and Resource Management at World Vision Bangladesh

Some 20 per cent of the refugees are either pregnant or breastfeeding.

World Vision’s experts warn that the number of Myanmarese refugees sheltering in Bangladesh - most of whom identify as Rohingya - could exceed one million by the end of the year unless a peaceful solution to the crisis is found.

Most of the refugees were pushed out of Myanmar in recent years and are now crammed into a section of Cox’s Bazar district in south-eastern Bangladesh. Many have experienced unimaginable horror since violence broke out in Rakine state on 25 August.

When we were fleeing, I cried because I heard the sounds of firing, people shouting and crying.

In my dreams I see people running, crying, shouting and fighting and suddenly I get up in fear.

- Somsida, 11-year-old refugee

World Vision has increased its relief efforts in the last 72 hours. The aid agency aims to reach some 60,000 people with emergency food supplies in its first phase of relief. In the longer term, World Vision aims to reach over 115,000 refugees with shelter kits, food, baby kits, child-friendly spaces, psychological first aid, nutrition counselling, safe water and sanitation.

Last week, World Vision launched its Myanmar refugee appeal to support children suffering unimaginable hardship in refugee settlements in Bangladesh.

You can help children and their families affected by the crisis - please donate to our Myanmar Refugee Appeal »

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