Geneva: The UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) has warned that the children from the Rohingya Muslim minority are facing the danger of becoming a “lost generation”. “We’re talking about risking the loss or potential loss of a generation of Rohingya children,” Unicef spokesperson Simon Ingram told the media here on Wednesday.
“If we don’t make the investment in education now, we face the very real danger of seeing a lost generation of Rohingya children,” UNICEF Bangladesh Representative Edouard Beigbeder said, adding “who lack the skills they need to deal with their current situation, and who will be incapable of contributing to their society whenever they are able to return to Myanmar”, reports Efe news. Since August 25, 2017, around 700,000 Rohingya people have had to escape from what the UN described as “ethnic cleansing” unleashed by the Myanmar security forces, fleeing to neighbouring countries, especially to Bangladesh.
Long-time victims of religious segregation in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, the Rohingya people have been considered illegal immigrants by the government and were denied citizenship, and have lived for decades as stateless persons. Having spent several weeks in the rudimentary camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar where the refugees currently live, Ingram said that despite improvements that have been made to the camps, the Rohingya now “are starting to look forward, they’re starting to wonder, ‘What next?'”
“They are starting to think, you know, what sort of future that they really have, and this is where a new level of anxiety and fear starts to come in,” he added. Unicef is currently negotiating with the Bangladeshi government for new programmes for the Rohingya children, with the aim of improving the quality of education, increasing the number of hours spent in class and hiring teachers with the appropriate training. The agency has also called on Myanmar allow the half a million of Rohingya children in its territory to have equal access to compulsory education as the rest of the communities.