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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
Representational Image. VOA
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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)

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Millions Of Urban Children in Worse Condition Than Rural People: UNICEF

ICLEI, a global network of more than 1,500 cities, towns and regions, said disasters were more likely to impact the most vulnerable in cities, including children.

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Urban CHildren
A girl sells candies along a street in the Miraflores district in Lima. VOA

Millions of poor urban children are more likely to die before their fifth birthday than those living in rural areas, according to a U.N. study released Tuesday that challenges popular assumptions behind the global urbanization trend.

The UNICEF research found not all children in cities benefited from the so-called urban advantage — the idea that higher incomes, better infrastructure and proximity to services make for better lives.

“For rural parents, at face-value, the reasons to migrate to cities seem obvious: better access to jobs, health care and education opportunities for their children,” said Laurence Chandy, UNICEF director of data, research and policy.

urban children
Children play in a pool that has no system to replace the water in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 13, 2015. Brazil is among the world’s largest economies, but lags in access to water and sanitation. Rapid urban growth in recent decades, poor planning, political infighting and economic instability are largely to blame, experts say. VOA

“But not all urban children are benefiting equally; we find evidence of millions of children in urban areas who fare worse than their rural peers.”

Although most urban children benefit from living in cities, the study identified 4.3 million globally who were more likely to die before age five than their rural counterparts, and said 13.4 million were less likely to complete primary school.

“Children should be a focus of urban planning, yet in many cities they are forgotten, with millions of children cut off from social services in urban slums and informal settlements,” said Chandy in a statement.

Urban Children
A mother seeking entry into the United States with her children in McAllen, Texas. VOA

About 1 billion people are estimated to live in slums globally, hundreds of millions of them children, according to the U.N. children’s agency.

A decade ago, the world officially became majority urban, and two-thirds of the global population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050, according to the United Nations.

“We applaud UNICEF for putting numbers around a problem that will only get more serious as more and more families move to cities,” said Patrin Watanatada of the Bernard van Leer Foundation, which works to promote early childhood development. “Cities can be wonderful places to grow up, rich with opportunities — but they can also pose serious challenges for a child’s healthy development.”

 Urban children
New campaign to limit children’s calories to 200 per day. wikimedia commons

Poor transport links, limited access to health clinics and parks, as well as growing air pollution and stressed caregivers can exacerbate city living for children, said Watanatada.

Improved walking and cycling infrastructure, affordable housing and transportation, and polices targeted at supporting children and those who care for them could help ease life for urban families.

Also Read: Ebola Increases The Number Of Orphans in DRC: UNICEF

ICLEI, a global network of more than 1,500 cities, towns and regions, said disasters were more likely to impact the most vulnerable in cities, including children.

“Children are disproportionately affected by gaps in urban services, especially when it comes to water, sanitation, air quality, and food security,” said Yunus Arikan, head of global policy and advocacy at ICLEI. (VOA)