Ms. Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International, Prime Minister of Denmark 2011-2015, met national and international media on Saturday, October 21, 2017, to discuss her experience of Bangladesh visit, Rohingya response plan, and how Save the Children is working in Bangladesh to give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn, and protection from harm. Overcrowding, a lack of schooling and widespread desperation among the Rohingya in camps and makeshift settlements in Bangladesh are putting children at an alarming risk of exploitation and abuse, CEO of Save the Children warned.
Ms. Helle Thorning-Schmidt visit Rohingya camps on October 20, 2017, to observe the situation of the of displaced Rohingya people living in Cox’s Bazar makeshift. Ms. Thorning-Schmidt is on a three-day visit from October 19-21, 2017 to Bangladesh to observe Rohingya influx crisis on the ground, and Save the Children’s Bangladesh program. As CEO of Save the Children International, Ms. Schmidt oversees humanitarian and development programs that reach 55 million children in around 120 countries.
Ms. Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s visit also reinforced mobilization the urgently needed resources to provide life-saving humanitarian support to the displaced people, especially the protection of children in Cox’s Bazar and its host communities. More than 450,000 school-age Rohingya children are currently out of school in Bangladesh – including 270,000 who have arrived since August 2017 – taking away one of the most important protective mechanisms for children.
“There are huge child protection concerns in the camps. A lot of desperate, hungry children are running around alone in crowded, chaotic settings where anything could happen,” said Save the Children CEO Helle Thorning-Schmidt, during her visit to Bangladesh.
“It’s a child protection disaster waiting to happen. This kind of situation leaves children who’ve already seen and experienced things that no child should ever see at a hugely increased risk of exploitation like trafficking, sexual abuse, and child labor.
“One of the best ways we can protect children in this situation is to get them into classrooms; a safe space where they can learn, and can also benefit from things like psychosocial support and hygiene promotion. In a crisis like this, education is incredibly important for children.”
Ms. Thorning-Schmidt also expressed grave concern about the number of separated and unaccompanied Rohingya children in Bangladesh.
Since late August, more than 537,000 displaced Rohingya people, among them 60% children, have arrived in Cox’s Bazar alone, marking the largest humanitarian crisis in Asia in recent time.
In the media briefing, both Ms. Thorning-Schmidt and Mr. Mark Pierce, Country Director, Save the Children in Bangladesh thanked the Government of Bangladesh for the giving the displaced Rohingya people a safe sanctuary. Mr. Pierce talked about the organization’s consistent and innovative efforts to improve children’s lives across Bangladesh.
He reemphasized Save the Children’s concern for child-protection in this crisis, especially for separated and unaccompanied Rohingya children. He reminded that there might be more support needed for children during winter due to cold weather and high risk of pneumonia. By next year, Save the Children will provide support as equal to the amount of USD$90 million to address Rohingya crisis, especially to protect and improve Rohingya Children’s lives.