COX’S BAZAR: Around 490,000 Rohingya have taken refuge in Bangladesh, among them nearly 6,000 orphans and some 1,500 children separated from their families, according to official sources.
The government has said it will give smartcards to all Rohingya orphans so they can receive food, shelter and other basic necessities. To that end, it is preparing a database that is due for completion in the next few days.
Emran Sarkar, assistant director of the Social Welfare Department in Cox’s Bazar, told Arab News: “We’re making a database of orphans and disabled Rohingya children, containing all necessary information about their needs, present location and future requirements, to facilitate the humanitarian activities of governmental and non-governmental organizations.”
The government will allot 200 acres of land in Ukhia and Teknaf Upazilla to provide shelter, food, education and rehabilitation for Rohingya orphans.
“I lost my mother a few years back,” nine-year-old Joinal, who fled Myanmar with his younger sister and now lives with relatives in Kutupalang camp in Cox’s Bazar, told Arab News.
“Now my father was brutally murdered. When our house was attacked, two people tied up my father’s legs while another slaughtered him with a knife.”
Rohingya orphan Mohammed Rafique, who took refuge in Kutupalang, told Arab News: “When the Myanmar Army began torching houses in our village, we ran for our lives. But the army ran after us and everyone was captured. My father was shot dead, and my mother and three sisters were forced to stay in the house as it was burned down. Villagers who didn’t know how to swim were forced into the river.”
Sisters Noor Jannat and Noor Cheher, aged 3 and 4 respectively, lost their mother a year ago. Since then, they have been living with their grandmother Noor Banu in Kutupalang.
Their father Abdul Amin used to send money from Myanmar to cover their expenses, but contact has been lost for the last month.
“I don’t know what happened to him. Probably the army killed him,” Noor Banu, who is the only person looking after the orphans now, told Arab News.
According to UNICEF, some 250,000 Rohingya children have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh. “So far we’ve identified 1,400 children who were separated from their families. Our search continues,” Shakil Faijullah, communication manager of UNICEF Bangladesh, told Arab News.
“We’re trying to find their parents, and so far 51 families have been reunited with their children. In addition, we’ve established 42 centers where these children get the opportunity to paint, sing and play. Children come to the centers during the day, and at night they stay in the care of relatives or reliable neighbors.”