Iftiaj Nur Nishan, Special Correspondent :
According to the latest Factsheet, compiled jointly by the Bangladesh government and the UN refugee agency UNHCR, now the total number of Rohingya sheltered in 34 camps across the Country is 9,26,486.
This recent (June 12) report states that 52% of the total Rohingya population are children. The report also mentioning that 17,186 are 0-1 year olds, 1,25,528 are 1-4 year olds, 2,03,727 are 5-11 year olds and 1,34,099 are 12-17 year olds.
In other words, according to these statistics, a total of 5 lakh 6 thousand 540 Rohingya children, including 2 lakh 34 thousand 144 girls and 2 lakh 63 thousand 398 boys, became refugees not from their own country Myanmar but
At present spending childhood in the Rohingya camps.
On June 19, the day before this year’s World Refugee Day, children between the ages of 5 and 17 year participated with the highest number in Rohingya’s “Go Home” campaign.
In campaign they too have raised their voices like the elders, “Let’s go, let’s go to Arkan” and also carried The flag of Myanmar, play cards and posters with demands.
Mohammad Ayas, an 11-year-old Rohingya child, chanted slogans as the centerpiece of a crowd of thousands of Rohingya’s “Go Home” rally at the Lambasia Rohingya camp in Ukhiya.
He came to Bangladesh from Maungdaw, Myanmar in 2017 at the age of 7 holding the hands of his mother and grandmother. Ayas’s father goes missing in the violence, who has not yet been found for five years.
Showing the Myanmar flag in his hand, Ayash said, “This is my country’s flag. I want to return to our Arakan. I haven’t seen my father for a long time. I don’t know I will able to see him again.”
At the movement of Camp 13, Khin Maung, president of the Rohingya Youth Association-a creative organization of Rohingya youth, said : ” Rohingya youth as well as children, adolescents also participated in ” Go Home ” campaign with huge number. Parents of Rohingya children born here are concerned about future. We want to go our country quickly.”
Mohammad Yasin, 26, a resident of Kutupalong 1-East Camp, a Rohingya, is worried about the future of his 8-month-old son Yamin, who was born in Bangladesh.
Comparatively educated Rohingya young man Yasin said, “I don’t know what will happen in Yamin’s future. I want to return to my home with dignity before he grows up, so that he can grow up in his own culture.”
UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and popular musician Tahsan Khan spoke to Rohingya children during a visit to a Rohingya camp on the occasion of Refugee Day.
At the end of the visit in Ukhiya, Tahsan told TTN, “I have talked to Rohingya children and realized that they care about their own nationality. They know they have their own national anthem and language.”
“Rohingya’s have expressed a desire to return to the country as soon as possible, but there are also fears that the same thing could happen again until their fundamental rights and security are guaranteed,” Tahsan said.
Meanwhile, UNICEF said their report on its website published on May 1 that, ” there are about four lakh school-age Rohingya children in refugee camps in Bangladesh.”
This UN agency working with children and already started the Myanmar Curriculum Pilot (MCP) project in camps in Cox’s Bazar to teach Rohingya children the curriculum of their own country. In May 2022, 10,000 children were initially covered by this program.
If an environment is created for Rohingya children to return to Myanmar voluntarily, safely and with dignity, the pilot program will help create opportunities for them to integrate into Myanmar’s education system and society, UNICEF also said in report.