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UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) urges Turkey not to use children, refugees as bargaining chips in its latest dispute with European Union

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FILE - The United Nations headquarters building is pictured though a window with the UN logo in the foreground. VOA
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Geneva, March 18, 2017: The UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) urged Turkey on Friday not to use children, refugees and undocumented migrants as bargaining chips in its latest dispute with the EU, after Ankara threatened again to break the migration agreement.

Unicef humanitarian affairs adviser Lucio Melandri, told a news conference that children should never be used as bargaining chips, and refugees and migrants should not be manipulated for political reasons, Efe news reported.

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Melandri said he was aware of the situation in Turkey, which is home to 3 million Syrian refugees, adding that Unicef does not take a political stance, but asks all parties to consider the protection of children.

Turkey repeatedly threatened the EU to suspend the agreement, closed in March 2016, by which it agreed to receive refugees arriving in Greece from their country, in exchange for economic aid and visa exemptions for its citizens.

The threats have risen sharply since Germany and Holland vetoed the campaign rallies of Turkish ministers in their territories, to support the constitutional reform that would hand over all executive power in Turkey to the president. (IANS)

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UN: Rohingya Children Face Perpetual Life in Limbo

UNICEF says the nearly 700,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh will not return to their homes in Myanmar without guarantees of safety

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Rohingya Children
The report by the U.N. children's fund says that these children face multiple dangers, including the imminent threat of floods, landslides, and waterborne disease outbreaks during the upcoming monsoon and cyclone seasons. VOA

A generation of Rohingya children in Myanmar and Bangladesh will be condemned to a perpetual life in limbo unless coordinated international action is taken to end the violence and discrimination against the Rohingya people, according to the UNICEF report Lives in Limbo.

More than half a million Rohingya refugee children are estimated to have fled to Bangladesh. The report by the U.N. children’s fund says that these children face multiple dangers, including the imminent threat of floods, landslides, and waterborne disease outbreaks during the upcoming monsoon and cyclone seasons, as well as the exploitation and early marriages that arise from living in congested, slumlike conditions.

However, the situation for the estimated 185,000 children who remain in Myanmar’s Rakhine state is considered even grimmer, according to Simon Ingram, author of the report.

ALSO READ: Crisis of Rohingya: A future lost in darkness of time

Rohingya Children
A Rohingya Muslim child kisses his mother as they rest after having crossed over from Myanmar to the Bangladesh side of the border near Cox’s Bazar’s Teknaf area, Sept. 2, 2017. Tens of thousands of others crossed into Bangladesh in a 24-hour span as they fled violence in western Myanmar, the UNHCR said. VOA

He says families there reportedly are living isolated, fearful lives with minimal access to basic services.

“I think, if we are looking for an indicator of the situation on the ground, there is the fact that people are still continuing to come at the rate of something like 1,000 or more a week, crossing into Bangladesh,” Ingram said. “So, I think that that number itself speaks to the situation on the ground — the anxiety, the fear, the continued threat of violence and the hope of those people and those communities.”

UNICEF is urging the Myanmar government to end the violence, to lift restrictions on Rohingya freedom of movement in Rakhine state, to provide for their basic needs, and to grant unlimited access to humanitarian agencies.

UNICEF says the nearly 700,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh will not return to their homes in Myanmar without guarantees of safety. In the meantime, it says, education offers one of the best opportunities for Rohingya children to achieve a better future. (VOA)