Displaced children arriving in Bangladesh are exhibiting signs of trauma such as nightmares and loss of speech after witnessing horrific violence in Myanmar and are in urgent need of psychological and emotional support say Disasters Emergency Committee charities.
As well as providing food, water and shelter to more than half a million mainly Rohingya people, DEC member charities have identified psychological and emotional support services as a critical need.
“Children are visibly traumatised and distressed, and many have stopped speaking,” said Evan Schuurman, who’s part of Save the Children’s humanitarian response team in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
“Some parents tell us their children are suffering nightmares, others are afraid they’ll be attacked in the dark.
“The psychosocial needs of children are enormous and really obvious when you walk through the camps and makeshift settlements. They urgently need emotional and psychological support to help deal with the horror they have been through.”
Most of those arriving in Bangladesh are women and girls – some of whom have reportedly been raped and sexually abused. Hundreds of children at the camps have been separated from their families and report having witnessed violence first hand.
12-year-old Azmeda fled her home in Myanmar after her village was razed to the ground. “I saw lots of houses on fire and so many dead bodies,” she said. “Many of them were mutilated. I was so scared, I thought I would become one of those dead bodies myself.”
DEC partner charities including Save the Children and the Red Cross are providing child-friendly spaces for hundreds of children many of whom are unaccompanied or separated from their parents. The temporary locations allow children to receive 24-hour support and protection while attempts are made to find living family members.
Many children are anxious and frightened and suffer from toxic stress - prolonged exposure to high levels of stress from trauma, violence and neglect, which can lead to long term psychological damage.
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