Dhaka, Sep 16 (IANS) The Bangladesh government on Saturday announced plans to build shelters for up to 400,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar as it began a vaccination campaign for 1.5 lakh refugee children facing challenges of food, nutrition, shelter, water and sanitation.
The Army and aid agencies will build 14,000 shelters, each housing six families, near the city of Cox’s Bazar, the Daily Star newspaper reported.
Since late August over 400,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar to escape a government offensive, according to UN estimates.
UN human rights chief Zeid Raad Al Hussein called the security operation targeting Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
Rights groups accused the Myanmar military of burning Rohingya villages. But the Army said it was responding to attacks by militants and denied targeting civilians.
The new shelters for Rohingyas will be on a site covering about 8 sq km of land, close to established camps which have been overwhelmed by arrivals from Myanmar, the Daily Star reported.
A total of 8,500 temporary toilets will be built and 14 “makeshift warehouses” will be set up near the shelters.
The Disaster Management and Relief Ministry will coordinate the matter with Armed Forces Division, Border Guard Bangladesh, Risk Reduction for Resilient Cities, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, International Organization for Migration, World Food Programme and other agencies to construct these shelter centres within 10 days, the report said.
Meanwhile, a rubella and polio vaccination campaign for 1.5 lakh children of Rohingya refugees started in Bangladesh. All the children, aged between six months and 15 years, will be vaccinated for rubella (measles), Cox’s Bazar Civil Surgeon Abdus Salam said.
Children below five years will be administered polio vaccines while kids from six months to five years will be provided vitamin A capsules, the surgeon said.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), over 200,000 of the estimated 400,000 Rohingyas who fled violence in Myanmar to Bangladesh since August 25 are children. They are facing challenges of food, nutrition, shelter, water and sanitation. Many of them are traumatised, malnourished and weak.
Health personnel from Rohingya camp areas in Ukhia and Teknaf said a rising number of people, mostly children, are visiting the health facilities with diarrhea, fever, cold and skin diseases.
The current humanitarian crisis began following an August 25 attack by the insurgent Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on police and military posts in the northwestern state of Rakhine that had led to a violent offensive by the Myanmar Army.