Vulnerable Rohingya children living in "appalling conditions" says UNICEF
| Updated Jan 10, 2018 at 5:03pm
in central Rakhine, Myanmar on 18 December 2017. ©UNICEF/UN0155419/Myo Thame
The inability of UN agencies to access vulnerable Rohingya children who remain in northern Myanmar is "troubling", said the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday.
Describing her recent visit to Rakhine State, UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado, said that around 60,000 Rohingya children remain "almost forgotten", trapped in squalid camps in central Rakhine, while "the eyes of the world" are focused on the 655,000 who have fled across the border into Bangladesh.
"UNICEF and our partners still don't know what the true picture is of the children who remain in northern Rakhine because we don't have enough access. What we do know is troubling. Prior to 25 August, we were treating 4,800 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition; these children are no longer receiving this life-saving treatment."
She said UNICEF stood ready to work with the Government of Myanmar and the state authorities of Rakhine, to provide humanitarian relief to all children, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or status, but to do so unlimited access was essential.
She gave a vivid description of two of the worst camps she'd visited, in Pauktaw Township, which is reachable only by boat.
"The first thing that you notice when you reach the camps is the stomach-churning stench. Parts of the camps are literally cesspools. Shelters teeter on stilts above garbage and excrement. In one camp, the pond where people draw water from is separated by a low mud wall from the sewage. You can easily see how a little bit of rainfall would wash that filth over into the pond. Children walk barefoot through the muck. One camp manager reported four deaths among children ages 3-10 within the first 18 days of December. His only ask was for proper pathways so they wouldn't have to walk through their own waste."