Three Years In To Rohingya Refugee Crisis, Funding Cuts Threaten Lives
- 860,000 Rohingya refugees – more than half of them children - mark three years living in camps
- Heading into Year 4, child protection must remain central to the response
- Sustained international funding is needed for life-saving aid, and to support refugees’ resilience
Three years after mass atrocities in Myanmar forced them to flee to for their lives, 860,000 Rohingya—more than half of them children—still live in limbo in the world’s largest refugee camp. As the crisis enters its fourth year, the need is as great as ever. But COVID-19-related economic problems have led to reduced global funding for emergencies, and aid agencies like World Vision expect the already dire living conditions in the camp to worsen.
“The Rohingya are resilient, courageous survivors, but refugee parents here are afraid,” says Fredrick Christopher, Response Director for World Vision, based in Cox’s Bazar. “They see their children growing up in the camps without the quality education they will need to build a new life back home in Myanmar one day, or the life skills to cope with daily hardship in the camp. They are quickly becoming a lost generation. Mothers say to me, ‘It’s been three years. Has the world forgotten us already?’”
“Before the pandemic, Rohingya children had limited access to education. Now with learning centres closed and fewer humanitarians in the camps, they have even less. Without work, their parents are forced to turn to negative coping strategies, such as marrying their children off or sending them out to work. We know child marriage is on the rise and reportedly children as young as age 7 are working.”
World Vision is working with Rohingya parents, imams and local leaders to strengthen community-based child protection. We are also supporting families stressed by the health and economic impact of COVID-19, especially as they enter yet another year of exile.
“NGOs and UN agencies are providing lifesaving services for a makeshift city of almost 1 million people. This work must continue until the Rohingya can return to Myanmar voluntarily, and in safety and dignity,” says Christopher. “We must re-double our efforts and support peaceful resolutions to the on-going conflict. Rohingya children are counting on us.”
World Vision served more than 498,000 Rohingya refugees this year, as well as host community residents, through protection and education services, food assistance, maternal and child nutrition programmes, WASH facilities and cash-based initiatives.