More than half a million Rohingya people have fled Myanmar to seek safety in Bangladesh since last August, in what the United Nations calls the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world. In September the IKEA Foundation gave Save the Children a €1 million grant to provide relief items as well as education and protection services, but with the crisis continuing to grow we have now given Save the Children an additional grant of €500,000 to help thousands more children.
The crisis is exposing children to stressful and unsafe living conditions. These children have already experienced extreme trauma, and they are vulnerable to even more grave child-protection risks, such as child labour, trafficking, forced marriages, sexual abuse, neglect and exploitation. Children without parents or carers (estimated to be between 5,000 and 15,000) are particularly at risk.
They are unable to attend school and have limited or no access to safe spaces. Most of the displaced children lack foundational literacy and numeracy skills.
Protecting Rohingya refugee children
With the IKEA Foundation’s grants, Save the Children’s child-friendly spaces team is making weekly rounds in temporary learning centres. They run activities—such as reading, sewing, crafting and singing—in safe spaces for adolescent girls. Those girls also receive information on reproductive health, hygiene awareness, self-protection and life skills, such as decision making and self-confidence training. The team is also creating safe spaces where adolescent girls can discuss issues with their peers.
Additionally, Save the Children is providing children with psychosocial support and making referrals to mental health and psychosocial support services. They facilitate structured activities, community events and parents’ meetings, and are providing case management for child protection concerns.
The right to learn in emergencies
Save the Children is building and running 100 centres to support children’s learning and wellbeing. With this new grant, 10 of the centres will be upgraded. Save the Children will train refugee facilitators on activities that promote learning, positive discipline, lifesaving messages, psychosocial support and child safeguarding. And they will hold monthly sessions with parents on the importance of children’s learning.
The IKEA Foundation has been supporting Rohingya families through our partners Save the Children and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, for several years—even before the current crisis began in August.