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‘Safety of Children Returning to Myanmar Must be Guaranteed’

DHAKA: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNISEF) has urged Myanmar government that it needs to maintain improved security and unimpeded humanitarian access in Myanmar before the return of Rohingya children to the country.

UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth made these remarks while speaking from the Kutapalong refugee camp in southern Bangladesh on Wednesday.

A senior official of the United Nations children’s agency said Monday that

“Some 58% of the refugees are children, many of whom are still traumatized by their experiences of violence,” said senior UNICEF officer.

“It is critical that their rights and needs in terms of protection and aid are front and centre in any agreement to return families to Myanmar. Return of refugees to Myanmar must be voluntary, safe and dignified,” Forsyth added.

As many as 688,000 Rohingya refugees are sheltered in the vast Kutupalong camp. More than half of them are children.

These refugees fled across the border from Myanmar’s Rakhine State following an outbreak of violence there in late August last year.

Until the safety and well-being of any child returning to Myanmar can be guaranteed, talk of repatriation is premature

“In just the last few days we have heard reports of fires and shooting in villages across the border. Until the safety and well-being of any child returning to Myanmar can be guaranteed, talk of repatriation is premature,” he stressed while praising the leadership of Bangladesh for supporting these desperate people and helping avoid “the worst potential consequences of this human calamity.”

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