Myanmar’s Rohingya Youth: UNICEF Appeals For Urgent Investment In Education And Skills Training
Two years after exodus, Myanmar’s ‘desperate’ Rohingya youth need education, skills: UNICEF
The head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Henrietta Fore, says daily struggle to survive for Myanmar’s Rohingya people in one of the world’s largest refugee settlements, has caused “overwhelming” despair and jeopardized the hopes of an entire generation, on Friday.
In a report marking two years since the arrival of around 745,000 Rohingya civilians in Bangladesh – after fleeing State-led persecution and violence in Myanmar – Executive Director Fore appealed for urgent investment in education and skills training.
“For the Rohingya children and youth now in Bangladesh, mere survival is not enough,” she said. “It is absolutely critical that they are provided with the quality learning and skills development that they need to guarantee their long-term future.”
Without adequate learning opportunities, youngsters can fall prey to drug dealers and traffickers who offer to smuggle “desperate” ethnic Rohingya out of Bangladesh, the UN report warned.
Women and girls face harassment and abuse especially at night, UNICEF noted, while adding that one of the agency’s objectives through education is to give teenagers the skills they need to deal avoid “many risks”, including early marriage for girls.
In addition to Bangladesh’s Kutupalong camp, which is home to some 630,000 people, hundreds of thousands more, have found shelter in another dozen or so camps in the Cox’s Bazar region close to the Myanmar border.
Living conditions are often described as perilous by UN humanitarians, including UNICEF, which have issued frequent alerts about the devastating effects of monsoon rains on flimsy bamboo and tarpaulin shelters.
Between 21 April and 18 July this year, refugee camp authorities recorded 42 injuries and 10 fatalities, including six children, because of monsoon weather, according to UNICEF.
Amid huge needs – and with conditions still unsuitable for the return of ethnic Rohingya to Myanmar, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) – basic public services have been provided in Cox’s Bazar, including health care, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, under the leadership of Bangladesh.
“But as the refugee crisis drags on, children and young people are clamouring for more than survival; they want quality education that can provide a path to a more hopeful future,” the UNICEF report insists.
According to the agency, around 280,000 children aged four to 14, now receive educational support. Of this number, 192,000 of them are in 2,167 learning centres, but more than 25,000 children “are not attending any learning programmes”, the agency noted.