Rohingya children in Bangladesh: Safeguarding their health-related rights in relation to the available healthcare system
Das Gupta, Sudipta
Zaman, Maliha Samiha
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As at March 2020 Bangladesh hosted approximately 859 160 Rohingya people of which 54 per cent were children. The magnitude of their health problems is undeniable and uncertainty about the consequences of these health issues persists. Although Bangladesh is not a state party to key treaties in international refugee law, several human rights treaties to which Bangladesh is party (and some provisions of its Constitution) entail that the state should safeguard the basic human rights of the Rohingya people in its territory. This includes special protection for Rohingya children, particularly in relation to access to essential services. This article analyses whether the healthcare services and provision in one of the 34 camps set up in the Cox’s Bazar district are sufficient to safeguard the health-related rights of Rohingya children. The article employs a qualitative research methodology, on the basis of field work conducted in September and October 2019. In parallel, the authors look at the healthcare system available for Rohingya children from a human rights-based approach, which should inform possible public health interventions. Their analysis illustrates that for different reasons the existing system struggles to provide adequate protection of the health-related rights of these children. In exposing the critical situation related to the ability of Rohingya children to enjoy their rights on Bangladeshi territory, the article suggests that sustainable solutions to safeguard these rights can be found only if the relief distribution, healthcare services, healthcare procedures and related conditions work concurrently in an effective way as they are all interrelated. If a single component does not function well, the affected rights cannot be secured and children’s unhealthy living conditions in the camps are exacerbated.