Over 200 Rohingya children have died at Teknaf and Ukhiya upazilas in Cox’s Bazar in the last week alone from malnutrition and a lack of medical facilities.
A doctor of a refugee shelter centre seeking anonymity confirmed the number to the Dhaka Tribune on Monday.
According to healthcare organisations and volunteers, a shortage of baby food and proper care, an inability of weakened mothers to breastfeed properly, and the spread of diseases have been causing these deaths in the Bangladesh-Myanmar border areas.
“The death toll of children is on the rise owing to the lack of food and drinking water along with cold-related diseases,” a local resident named Zahid Hossain said.
Zahid told this correspondent of how he has given over a spacious garden adjacent to his house for around 100 Rohingya families, calling it the “Zahider Bagan” shelter.
“We had to bury 11 children in only the last three days. They have been facing intolerable crisis,” he said.
A 24-year-old Rohingya woman named Setara who arrived at Shah Porir Dip told the Dhaka Tribune that her baby died in the no man’s land between the borders overnight on Sunday.
Nasima Yesmin, the director of the Cox's Bazar-based NGO Gonoshasthaya Kendra (GK), said most of the Rohingya children have been facing serious health issues since the crisis began.
“Some 700 children received treatment at our clinic in the last eight days, among them 248 were newborn babies,” Yesmin said. “Their capacity of disease prevention is not as strong as adults.”
GK is discharging healthcare to children aged under 10, prioritising the newborn babies under 28 days old.
In her observation, the mother and the babies need proper food, drinking water, safe shelter and medicine.
According to UN volunteers, more than 330,000 Rohingya refugees have entered Bangladesh since the latest military crackdown erupted in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
Half of this number are women and many of those are carrying young children and babies.
Baby food crisis hits Cox’s Bazar
Rohingya refugees have been facing an acute crisis of food for their children in the camps and shelter centres in Teknaf and Ukhiya upazila in Cox’s Bazar.
Voluntary organisations and NGOs have been providing food like rice, biscuits and khichuri - which are not appropriate foods for children.
Health experts have urged people across the country to help the crisis-stricken people by providing them with baby foods.
Prof Dr Kaniz Hasina, neonatal and paediatrics surgeon at DMCH, said babies do not get enough breast milk if their mothers are not consuming enough food and safe drinking water themselves.