Children living in the world's largest refugee camp are now facing a heightened risk of different forms of violence and exploitation including child trafficking, child labour, and child marriage.
This is happening because of the worsening socio-economic conditions brought about by the Covid-19 outbreak, child rights organisation Educo said this in a press release issued yesterday.
Rohingya children in the refugee community were already facing different forms of violence and safety risks due to the desperate living conditions in the camps, Matiur Rahaman, Educo Cox's Bazar emergency response's head of mission, said.
The outbreak has created a bigger crisis for Rohingya children within an existing crisis.
They now remain cut off from the outside world as schools are still shut down, and many of them do not have access to learning alternatives.
"We know from experience that children are likely to suffer violence in their home and community as families face extremely uncertain times," Matiur said.
Mosharoffa, 12, a refugee living in Cox's Bazar said, "Because of the coronavirus, there is no peace in the block, only fear. I cannot go out anywhere."
Meanwhile, in the refugee camps, at least 38 people have already been infected with Covid-19.
However, this is a conservative figure, Educo said highlighting that the cases could be much higher. "Accurate information about the illness and measures to prevent its spread is failing to reach many people in the camps."
"Particularly in cramped spaces such as refugee camps, it is only a matter of time before we see a larger outbreak. There is an acute need for hygiene kits and personal protective equipment such as face masks, disinfectants, and hygiene kits to prevent children from getting infected," Matiur said.
So Educo and Childfund Korea have launched a Covid-19 emergency response in Cox's Bazar to help protect children in the refugee camps and host communities hit hard by the lockdown and school closures.
The response will focus on the distribution of hygiene kits to 2,000 households in the refugee camps, provision of medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE) for health facilities and isolation wards in the secondary health facilities, provision of need-based mental health and psychological support to vulnerable children and adolescents, and unconditional cash support to the host communities in Cox's Bazar district.
To protect children and adolescents from further safety risks, Educo will implement an information drive to disseminate Covid-19 prevention and response information and child protection messages.
Educo is a global non-government organisation focused on education and child protection.
Since 2018, the organisation and Childfund Korea has been working in Cox's Bazar to help Rohingya refugees.