High levels of poverty and unemployment amongst Rohingya families at the Cox’s Bazar refugee settlement in Bangladesh has exposed young girls to increased risks of child-trafficking, the UN migration agency has confirmed.
The lack of employment opportunities near the camp, particularly for women and girls, is pushing desperate families to allow children to work far from their protection. Girls often find themselves sold into forced-labour or the victims of abuse when promised wages and benefits fail to materialise.
Girls from the displaced Rohingya community are at increased risk of exploitation due to the psychological trauma of their forced exodus from Myanmar and by a lack of education. Long-term discrimination against the Rohingya community in Myanmar has limited the educational opportunities available to girls.
SOS Children’s Villages operates five child-friendly spaces in Cox’s Bazar offering Rohingya children a safe place to play and receive psychosocial care. The charity’s teachers, social workers and trauma counsellors are providing 300 children each day with access to informal education, healthcare, trauma counselling and malnutrition prevention.
SOS Children’s Villages UK CEO Alison Wallace said: “We are deeply concerned for the safety of children at the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp. A year after being violently forced from their homes Rohingya children continue to live in poverty without access to the health, social or educational services that are integral to their development and safety.
“With no hope in sight for a safe return to Myanmar it is imperative we offer children from the Rohingya community the opportunities they need to build themselves a safe and stable future. Education is key – as is emotional support and trauma counselling to help children come to terms with the upheaval, bereavement and violence they have experienced.”
Almost one million people from the persecuted Rohingya minority group have fled into Bangladesh since August 2017, escaping violent attacks by the military. More than half of the refugees are children and at least 40,000 of them are unaccompanied after losing or being separated from their parents.
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For media enquiries please contact Lucy Prioli at Lucy.Prioli@sosuk.org or on 01223 222 974.