Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Food & Hunger

145,000 Rohingya Children Who Fled to Bangladesh Are Suffering From Malnutrition

Rohingya children are given hand of chocolate bars by a member of the public driving past a makeshift refugee camp in Teknaf a sub-district of southeast Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district.Minors make up at least 60 per cent of the 330,000 Rohingya who have crossed the border to Bangladesh over the past few weeks. Highly traumatised, they are arriving malnourished and injured after walking for days.
Patrick Brown/UNICEF

More than half a million Rohingya people, fleeing violence at the hands of the Burmese army, have crossed the border into Bangladesh since Aug. 25. 

An estimated 145,000 of these refugees are children under the age of 5 who are suffering from malnutrition, according to the Inter-Sector Coordination Group, which helps organize humanitarian relief efforts.

At least 14,000 of the children have severe acute malnutrition, with their bodies visibly wasting away before their 5th birthdays.

Over half of the Rohingya refugees arriving in Cox’s Bazar, where Bangladesh has set up refugee camps, are malnourished — including adults and 50,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Take Action: Millions are at risk of starvation. Ask world leaders to act now to stop and prevent famine now.

Embed from Getty Images

Though these people have finally escaped the violent conflict of their homeland, there is little food to be found in the refugee camps.

“The living conditions here are as bad as anything I’ve seen in 15 years of aid work,” a spokesperson for Save the Children said. “There just isn’t enough food. While distributions are happening — Save the Children is feeding thousands and rapidly scaling up — the refugees are still hungry and many children are visibly malnourished.”

Though the camps’ resources are already strained, the tide of people coming into the camps appears ceaseless and aid workers and relief efforts are struggling to respond to the increasing scale of the crisis. 

On Thursday, United Nations officials called the situation in the camps “dire” and said that without a “significant increase in assistance” conditions could grow much, much worse.

Embed from Getty Images

Read more: The Rohingya Refugee Situation in Bangladesh Is ‘Dire’ and Could Get Worse

The Rohingya people have been fleeing Myanmar in droves over the last six weeks, after a Rohingya insurgent group attacked Burmese border guard posts, killing nine. In retaliation, Myanmar’s military launched an indiscriminate “counter-insurgency” campaign against all Rohingya people, the majority of whom are Muslim in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar.

UNHCR head Zeid bin Ra’ad al-Hussein has called the military’s actions “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” and refugees have shared harrowing accounts of systemic rape, unprompted violence, and soldiers torching homes.

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

Embed from Getty Images

World leaders and the international community have called on Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, to resolve the crisis and unequivocally condemn the violence. But meaningful action remains to be seen as more Rohingya arrive in Bangladesh seeking refuge every day. 

Global Citizen campaigns in support of equal rights for all and against discrimination. You can take action here.