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Study: 32% Rohingya children chronically undernourished, 13% acutely

  • Published at 10:58 pm May 9th, 2019
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Planning Minister MA Mannan speaks at a seminar discussing the poor health condition of Rohingya children, living in Cox's Bazar refugee camps, in Dhaka on Thursday, May 09, 2019 Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

More than half of over 700,000 Rohingyas who have fled to Bangladesh since August 25, 2017 are children

A new research has revealed that about 32% of Rohingya children, aged between six and 59 months, who arrived in Bangladesh after August 2017 are chronically undernourished, while another 13% are acutely undernourished.

The study also found that 36% of Rohingya children in the same age group who took refuge in different Cox’s Bazar refugee camps before August 2017 are chronically undernourished, while another 12% are acutely undernourished.

The report was launched at a workshop on forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals in Bangladesh, organized by Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), at a Dhaka hotel on Thursday. 

BIDS conducted the study jointly with the International Food Policy Research Institution (IFPRI) last October. The report was presented by researchers Mohammad Younus and Binayak Sen of BIDS, and Paul Dorosh of IFPRI. 

Rohingya children’s nutritional status improved between 2017 and 2018, but their undernourishment remains unacceptably high due to poor maternal nutrition and hygiene conditions in the camps, the report revealed.

Speaking at the programme as the chief guest, Planning Minister Abdul Mannan said although the Bangladesh government’s performance in most cases is criticized, its role in tackling the Rohingyas has been largely commended in the international arena. 

“The Rohingyas are actually not in good condition,” said the minister.

“We have to work in coordination (with donor countries and agencies) on the Rohingya children’s undernourishment,” he said, adding that the government will focus on the matter, too.

Terming the global response to the humanitarian crisis so far as satisfactory, BIDS Director General KAS Murshid said it has become a real challenge to take necessary measures to battle the crisis before it worsens further.

“Necessary and immediate initiatives from all concerned are a must before the global response (to the Rohingya issue) dries out,” he said.

According to UNHCR, more than 723,000 Rohingyas entered Bangladesh to escape the violence that broke out in Myanmar’s Rakhine state on August 25, 2017. The vast majority of them are women and children, with more than 40% being under the age 12.

Rohingya labourers ahead in local market

The host communities lag behind the Rohingya refugees in the local labour market, posing a threat to the locals. 

The locals may suffer even more in earning their living if the Rohingyas are consistently allowed to work, according to the study.

While narrating the research findings, Mohammad Younus said a number of Rohingyas are running out of cash and that’s why they come to the local communities for work, mainly in the agriculture and service sectors. 

“They are leading the local labour market, where 57.86% of Rohingyas are engaged, as compared to 51.56% of the locals,” he said.