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Rohingya children in refugee camps missing out on an education, UN warns

23 August 2019

Ralph Hodgson/Tearfund

Rohingya children join one of Tearfund’s safe spaces, where they can play, draw, write poems, talk to a trained therapist, do informal maths, and sing songs

Rohingya children join one of Tearfund’s safe spaces, where they can play, draw, write poems, talk to a trained therapist, do informal maths, an...

THOUSANDS of Rohingya children in refugee camps in Bangladesh are “desperate” for an education, aid agencies have said.

More than 900,000 stateless Rohingya refugees have been living in camps in south-east Bangladesh for the past two years. In July, more than half were children under 18. UNICEF has set up 2000 learning centres in the camps which educate more than two-thirds of the 280,000 children aged four to 14 who are in non-formal education.

In its latest report, Beyond Survival: Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh want to learn, published this month, UNICEF warns of a “gap” of more than 25,000 children who do not have access to any education. “Furthermore, an estimated 97 per cent of adolescents and youth aged 15 to 18 years are not enrolled in any type of learning facility.”

An additional 640 learning centres are needed, it says.

The Christian charity Tearfund said that children in camps around Cox’s Bazar were missing out on both a formal education and support to overcome the trauma of leaving their homes.

The Rohingya-response manager for Tearfund, James Rana, said that a future of poverty had become “more and more likely” for this generation. “School is out permanently, not just for summer. . . Boredom is a real problem, especially for children and adolescents, as it can lead them into trouble.”

One Rohingya refugee, Kobir Ahmed (not his real name), who is 15, told the charity: “I don’t like living here — we don’t have our own house, I can’t go to school, I have nothing to do. I just roam around. I don’t feel good, I just feel bored. We don’t have freedom here.”

Tearfund’s local partners, the Coastal Association for Social Transformation Trust (COAST) and the Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh (CCDB) have been setting up youth clubs to provide a safe space for teenagers to “meet, read, play” and raise health and hygiene awareness. It also provides spaces for younger children. Between 700 and 800 children access the 16 centres in the Bangladeshi camps in groups of about 30.

A UNICEF representative in Bangladesh, Tomoo Hozumi, said that the international community must also play a part by making resources available. “A generation of children is growing older day by day, and we must make sure they do not lose hope in their futures. We cannot afford to fail them.”

Archbishop calls for end to violence. THE RC Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar, Cardinal Charles Bo, has called for an end to “violence and terror” in the country as it prepares for the next election in 2020, Vatican News reports.

In a pastoral letter, he called on the people of Myanmar to “work together to end violence and terror in our country, and to build a Myanmar where every man, woman, and child of every race and religion born on Myanmar soil is recognised both as our fellow citizen and as our brother and sister in humanity.”

He also supported the “necessary role of the military” there. Civilians must be protected, and people must have access to humanitarian aid, including food, shelter, medicine, and education, he said.

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