Malnutrition, poor sanitary conditions and diseases in refugee settlements is potentially catastrophic for Rohingya children who have fled Myanmar, UNICEF warns.
It has found many children both in camps and among new arrivals ‘severely acutely malnourished’.
“Some children are close to death by the time they make it across the border,” the UN body said in a news release issued simultaneously from Geneve, New York and Dhaka on Friday.
“We are working to get a clear understanding on the extent of acute malnutrition among Rohingya child refugees,” it said.
UNICEF mentioned that a nutrition survey is underway which will provide data in November.
However, according to its screening at the border on 16-18 October, 33 out of 340 children screed, were found to be severely acutely malnourished. Its purpose was to identify children who needed immediate, life-saving treatment, UNICEF said.
Screening conducted on sick children who were brought to a Medecins Sans Frontieres clinic reportedly found 14 severely acutely malnourished cases among 103 children.
So far, UNICEF and partners had screened 59,604 children among refugees who have taken shelter in Bangladesh since 25 August, and identified 1,970 as severely acutely malnourished , and 6,971 as moderately acutely malnourished.
These numbers roughly correspond to the pre-crisis malnutrition rates – which were already above the emergency threshold – 21.2 perr cent global acute malnutrition and 3.6 per cent severe acute malnutrition, according to a survey conducted in May 2017 in makeshift settlements.
In Myanmar’s Rakhine state, malnutrition rates in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships, where the vast majority of refugees come from, were also already above emergency thresholds.
“Since 25 August, we have had to stop treating 4,000 children with severe acute malnutrition in northern Rakhine because we have had no access,” UNICEF said.