UN warns of malnutrition among child Rohingya refugees

 08 Nov 2017 - 12:18

UN warns of malnutrition among child Rohingya refugees

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GENEVA: The UN on Friday warned of severe acute malnutrition rates among Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh which appeared to be at least double earlier estimates.

"Preliminary data from a nutrition assessment conducted last week at Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, show a 7.5 percent prevalence of life-threatening severe acute malnutrition – a rate double that seen among Rohingya child refugees in May 2017, the UN Children's Fund, UNICEF, said in a statement.

According to UNICEF, almost 60 percent of the latest Rohingya arrivals in Bangladesh are children.

"Those with severe malnutrition are now at risk of dying from an entirely preventable and treatable cause," said UNICEF Bangladesh Representative Edouard Beigbeder.

"Over the last 48 hours, some 4,000 Rohingya refugees crossed into Bangladesh from Myanmar. Traumatized, hungry and fearing for their lives, the refugees had camped out in the open in an area of no-man’s-land between the two countries. They crossed at low tide, where they were met by Bangladeshi border guards," UN migration agency the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a statement.

"Most people I talked to have walked for eight to ten days getting to the border, where they have waited up to four days to cross. They said they had nothing to eat or drink after the first few days," IOM press officer Olivia Headon said.

According to the UN, more than 607,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state as security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched villages.

In September, Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali said around 3,000 Rohingya had been killed in the crackdown. Turkey has been at the forefront of providing aid to Rohingya refugees, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has raised the issue at the UN.

Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012. A year ago following attacks on border posts in Rakhine's Maungdaw district, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which around 400 people were killed, according to Rohingya groups.

The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings and disappearances committed by security personnel. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

Myanmar has held talks with Bangladesh recently to explore the repatriation of Rohingya but has denied citizenship to Rohingya for decades.