Actress and Global Citizen Priyanka Chopra visited Rohingya refugee camps in western Bangladesh late last month to advocate on behalf of hundreds of thousands of displaced children, AP reports.
The UN Goodwill Ambassador was there for four days, and she spent spent time with children in safe homes, stopped by temporary schools, and helped kids draw, according to AP.
At the end of the visit, Chopra held a press conference, in which she called on the world to pay more attention to the plight of the Rohingya children.
“The kids I met were smiling but I could still see sadness in their eyes that reflected the carnage and horror they witnessed,” she told AP.
“There is still so much more support needed,” she said. “It is up to us, as global citizens, to make sure they have a future.”
Brian Sokol/UNICEF; UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra visits Rohingya refugee children in Balukhali - part of the so-called "Megacamp" which comprises the world's largest refugee site - in Cox's Bazar district, Bangladesh on May 22, 2018.
Of the more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar in 2017, 60% are children. Further, 60 babies are born throughout the camps everyday, AP reports.
All of these children face an assortment of risks, according to UNICEF.
Many of the children who escaped Myanmar have suffered violence, witnessed family members die, and experienced the terror of militias burning down villages. This kind of intense trauma could take years of psychological support and therapy, which is hard to come by, to overcome.
In the camps, children are at risk of malnutrition, disease, human trafficking, child labor, and more. An estimated 262,000 are currently deprived of a regular education in the camps, according to UNICEF.
And as the monsoon season approaches, the makeshift shelters throughout the camps are at risk of being wiped out by floods and landslides, endangering thousands of children.
Aid organizations like UNICEF and Save the Children are providing much-needed assistance throughout the camps, but the Bangladeshi government does not want the situation to be permanent.
As a result, attempts to repatriate the Rohingya to Myanmar have been negotiated. Last week, the UN reached a deal with Myanmar to lay the groundwork for repatriation.
In the meantime, Rohingya children remain vulnerable, a point that Chopra insisted upon during her remarks.
Brian Sokol/UNICEF; UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra visits children in Sabrang, Cox's Bazar district, Bangladesh on May 22, 2018. Hills in Myanmar are pictured on the horizon, across the Nat river, where Rohingya refugees were forced to flee.
“Please don’t divide children, they are future citizens of the world we live in,” she told AP. “No matter where a child is from or what his or her circumstances are, every child is the future of this world.”
“Open your heart to the children,” she added. “Be compassionate for the sake of the humanity.”
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