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More than 36,673 orphaned children living in Rohingya camps.

A total of 36,673 orphaned children are now living in the 12 Rohingya camps under Ukhiya and Taknaf upazilas of Cox’s Bazar, according to a government survey. Among the orphans, 12.5% are still without any shelter.

The survey also shows that a total 700 adolescent girls are living in an adverse environment at the refugee camps.

The Department of Social Services (DoSS) conducted the survey from September 20 to November 7, dividing the 12 Rohingya camps into 16 areas.

DoSS Database Officer Manjur Morshed told the Dhaka Tribune that about 65.8% children were living with their mothers or other people after losing their fathers in the recent spate of violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

“About 5,900 children lost their parents in Myanmar while about 500 children were separated from their parents during the crisis. About 17.5% of the orphaned children are living with their relatives, whereas 6.8% children are with their siblings and out of touch with any kind of child-friendly environment,” he added.

The government is likely to take up a Tk470.26cr project to nurse the orphans in a secured environment inside the camps, dividing them into seven categories, said DoSS Deputy Director Abu Abdullah Md Wali Ullah, coordinator of the survey. “The categories are: living alone; living with mother; living with relatives; living without any shelter; living with siblings; living with any adult who is not a relative and other circumstances.

“We are at the preliminary stage of the survey. We are now verifying the numbers to come up with more accurate data on the orphans. After that, we will initiate our action plan in line with the instructions of the Ministry of Social Welfare. The project to facilitate foster care is pending for approval.”

The government may provide smart cards to the orphaned children which would help officials have the updated information.

According to the Children Act, any one below the age of 18 is considered to be a child.

The orphaned children are to be taken care of under the provisions of the Orphanages and Widows’ Homes Act.

According to Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission, about 625,000 Rohingya refugees entered the country till November 8 since August 25 this year.

Nearly 340,000 Rohingya children are living in squalid conditions in Bangladesh camps where they lack enough food, clean water and health care, says Unicef.

Dhaka Tribue