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Bangladesh: 150,000 refugee children under 5 acutely malnourished, warns CARE

More than 150,000 refugee children under the age of five are acutely malnourished, warns the international aid organization CARE.

“The situation of the children is desperate, many have not eaten more than one meal a day for weeks. We are especially concerned that they will fall sick,” says Zia Choudhury, CARE Bangladesh’s country director.

The hygiene and sanitation situation in the camps is very poor, on average 2,000 people share only one toilet.

“Even before fleeing, many of the children were severely malnourished. Their condition in the camps is worrying. They have been living in extremely difficult and unhygienic conditions, which makes them susceptible to infections,” says Choudhury.

Children with acute malnutrition have very low weight for their height, severe muscle wasting and may also have nutritional oedema, the most extreme and visible form of undernutrition.

“Malnutrition during pregnancy and the first two years of a child’s life can have a very negative lasting impact on the child’s future health and development,” says Choudhury. “Although aid has reached some, the majority of the refugees are still in desperate need of clean drinking water, nutritious food and medical help.”

More than half a million refugees from Myanmar sought safety in Bangladesh after violence broke out in Myanmar's northern Rakhine State in August. CARE International is currently helping to identify and treat cases of severe acute malnutrition in children under five. So far, more than 13,000 children were screened in the camps out of which more than 11,000 will be treated with specialized therapeutic food in the next six months.

To provide ongoing food support, CARE has distributed cooked food to more than 3,500 people as well as dry food, such as rice, oil, sugar and salt, to more than 7,500 people.

“Particularly people who live deeper inside the camps are isolated from receiving aid; many do not even know assistance is available. We need to make sure to reach everyone, but for that we need more support,” says Choudhury.

In the coming months, CARE prepares to distribute hygiene and safe delivery kits and provide health services to prevent a possible disease outbreak.
Canadians can support CARE’s efforts at www.care.ca/bangladesh

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For journalists looking to travel to Bangladesh:
CARE has communications personnel in Bangladesh that can help arrange media visits to refugee settlements

CARE also has spokespeople in Bangladesh along with b-roll video and photos available. Contact:

Darcy Knoll
Communications Specialist | CARE Canada
darcy.knoll@care.ca | +1-613-228-5641

About CARE in Bangladesh
CARE has worked in Bangladesh since 1949, and has extensive experiences responding to humanitarian disasters. CARE has worked in Cox’s Bazar district, where most refugees have sought shelter, for many years, working in the areas of food security, disaster risk reduction, women’s empowerment and emergency response. In the last five years, CARE Bangladesh has supported more than 450,000 people with life-saving assistance.

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