Canada's role in escalating Myanmar refugee crisis

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More Canadian support needed for traumatized children, says World Vision

“In my dreams I see people running, crying, shouting and fighting and suddenly I get up in fear,” says 11-year old Somsida,
currently living in a refugee camp with her family in Bangladesh after fleeing Myanmar. Photo/World Vision.
(October 05, 2017)

World Vision is encouraged by the Government of Canada's additional $3-million commitment to helping more than 800,000 refugees who have fled Myanmar. But with camp numbers tripling in just the past few weeks, the situation continues to worsen, and ongoing financial commitments are critical to meet the immense needs of refugees, according to the international humanitarian and development agency.

More than half of refugees are children at risk of further violence and malnourishment says World Vision, as it scales up its response in Bangladesh. Children unaccompanied by, or separated from, adults or family members have exhibited signs of trauma and remain highly vulnerable to child trafficking as well as sexual and gender-based violence.

World Vision is responding, alongside partners, with basic necessities including, food, water and shelter at refugee sites along the border, but is concerned not enough is happening quickly enough. 

"We're seeing severe overcrowding, a lack of essential services, and increased reports of sexual assaults of women and children," says World Vision's director in Bangladesh, Fred Witteveen. "More than 1,600 unaccompanied children have been registered, and we suspect this is only a fraction of the true figure," says Witteveen. "They are hungry and alone. They are weakened after weeks on the run and are at risk of malnutrition, disease, mental health issues, exploitation and abuse.

"But I can tell you what I have seen having met refugee children and their families, and that is some are stoic with their grief, while others are more openly devastated. They've seen their husbands massacred, their homes burned to the ground, lost children who didn't survive the escape. There are malnourished mothers who helplessly cradle newborns they cannot breastfeed, and children who stood by their mothers while their fathers were rounded up and killed. We're only seeing the surface of their suffering given the chaos."

"This crisis is politically delicate," says Michael Messenger, President of World Vision Canada. "But the time to act is now. The Government of Canada can play a key role by engaging partners in Myanmar and Bangladesh to ensure the immediate needs of refugees are met while also looking to long-term political solutions. Canadians can also make an immediate impact to relieve the suffering through donations to aid agencies who are working on the ground, including World Vision and its Raw Hope Initiative."


Video HERE

Canadians can help the refugees from Myanmar and other vulnerable people by donating at World Vision's Raw Hope initiative helps save and protect children who live in the world's most dangerous places.

Website donations: HERE