Keeping refugee children safe during the monsoons

Children in the world’s largest refugee camp face less risk of being lost or separated from their families during the current hazardous monsoon season, thanks to new tracker ID bracelets distributed this week by World Vision.

 During the monsoons, children can be easily lost while seeking shelter from wind storms, floods, landslides and cyclones in the sprawling, overcrowded camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. To help prevent this, World Vision is distributing ID bracelets to 1,346 children attending its nine child-friendly spaces, making them easily traceable during an emergency.

 On each waterproof bracelet, the child’s World Vision ID number is recorded. Corresponding contact information for his or her family can be quickly traced on World Vision’s database. The bracelets, provided by UNICEF to partner NGOs, are part of a camp-wide campaign to protect some 250,000 pre-teen refugee children who don’t have any identification documents.

“Keeping children safe is always our first priority,” says Jimmy Tuhaise, Director of World Vision’s Bangladesh Refugee Crisis Response. “This tracing system will help us to that better, especially during the monsoon season.”

 Monsoons dumped almost 700 mm of rain in Cox’s Bazar in the past two weeks alone, triggering floods and landslides across the camps. More than two and a half metres of rain are expected to fall here throughout June, July and August during peak monsoon season.

Eight-year-old Arche is one of 55 children who received a bracelet this week at World Vision’s child-friendly space in Camp 19.

“Now I can play with my friends and go to the market,” she says. “I’m not afraid of getting lost. I feel safe.”

Taslima, a facilitator at the centre, says the children are proud to wear the bracelets. “They told me that they like the bracelets because it feels like wearing a watch.”