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More than 200,000 Kids Are Trying to Escape ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ in Myanmar, UN Says

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Approximately 400,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled violence in Rakhine, Myanmar, over the last three weeks — and more than half of them are children — according to UN estimates.

Many of the children are unaccompanied and separated from their families. And the refugee camps in which the Rohingya are being held in Bangladesh are chaotic and well over capacity, the New York Times reports.

Read more: Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis: Everything You Need to Know

"The first thing you see here in the different Rohingya camps is the large number of children. You see children who have not slept for days, they are weak and hungry,” UNICEF Chief of Child Protection in Bangladesh Jean Lieby said. “

After such a long and challenging journey many children are sick and they need health care right away. Children are traumatized. They need protection and psychological support,” he said.

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And because children are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of living in such conditions, the crisis is also a health emergency. 

“There are acute shortages of everything, most critically shelter, food and clean water,” another UNICEF representative said. “Conditions on the ground place children at risk of high risk of water-borne disease. We have a monumental task ahead of us to protect these extremely vulnerable children.”

Read more: Half of All Migrants Are Children, And Other Startling Facts About Refugees

In situations like these, children are particularly vulnerable to being trafficked, abused, and forced into labor or marriage.

Global Citizen campaigns for the childrens’ rights and the protection of refugees globally. You can take action here.

Read more: Refugee and Migrant Children Are Being Trafficked at Record Rates, UN Says

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The Rohingya have been fleeing ethnic and religious violence in Myanmar, which the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has denounced as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

UNICEF has appealed for $7.3 million to provide emergency support and humanitarian aid to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya children affected by the violence over the next four months, as the violence shows no signs of letting up.