The Myanmar Humanitarian Fund supports vulnerable children in Rakhine State
05 November 2021
The Myanmar Humanitarian Fund continues to support the most vulnerable, such as women like Khadija who needs specialised health services for her daughter.
*names changed to protect privacy
In a village northwest of Sittwe in Rakhine state, Khadija and her five-year-old daughter Tasmin have become regular visitors to the Integrated Nutrition Centre which offers a range of life-changing support. Come rain or shine, they go to the centre for physiotherapy sessions that Tasmin urgently needs as she was born with cerebral palsy – a physical disability that affects her movement and posture. Like most others living in this small Rohingya village, Khadija cannot afford to pay for the specialised health services that are critical for her daughter’s development.
“My husband is a seasonal daily wage earner so it is not always easy for him to be employed, and I do not have time to find myself a job as I take care of Tasmin around the clock. We cannot even bear the expense of her physiotherapy sessions,” Khadija explains.
An estimated 140,000 Rohingya people in Rakhine remain displaced since intercommunal violence in Rakhine in 2012. Rohingya people living in both camps and villages continue to face significant challenges in accessing basic healthcare, education and livelihoods due to movement restrictions. The COVID-19 outbreak across the country has further aggravated their humanitarian situation, leaving them almost entirely dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs.
Given the depth of needs, the Myanmar Humanitarian Funding (MHF) is supporting humanitarian organisations to provide developmental screening at nutrition centres – a short test to see if children are learning basic skills at the time when they should, or if there are delays. The funds are supporting humanitarian organisations to deliver rehabilitation services to Khadija’s daughter and other children identified as having special needs including some suffering from malnutrition. Early identification and subsequent physical therapy play a central role in ensuring children with disabilities and developmental delays can achieve their full potential, improving the quality of life for the children and their families. Between September 2020 and August 2021, 560 children with severe acute malnutrition were assessed for developmental milestones and more than 150 children received rehabilitation exercises and stimulative physiotherapy services in six IDP camps and 12 villages in Sittwe Township.
“I am overjoyed to see that my daughter can do remedial exercises without the need to travel far,” Khadija said. “I am really thankful for this kind of help. Our life would be in misery if it hadn’t been for the MHF. There is only one thing on mind, which is my daughter’s wellbeing. I want her to grow and reach her greatest potential.”
Enabling national humanitarian partners to deliver critical assistance
The Myanmar Humanitarian Fund (MHF) is a country-based pooled fund managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). It supports both national and international humanitarian organisations to address emerging and chronic humanitarian needs of vulnerable people affected by crisis. Since 2007, the MHF has provided US$80 million to support life-saving assistance through 205 humanitarian projects. In 2021 alone, the MHF made $12.4 million available to support vulnerable people affected by the armed conflict in Chin, Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states, Magway region, and the south-eastern part of Myanmar.MHF projects funded in 2020 and 2021 are currently making a difference in the lives of almost 1.2 million people, of whom around 56 per cent are women and girls, 44 per cent children and a further 11 per cent people with disabilities. The MHF ensures disability inclusion is mainstreamed in all projects implemented with its funding, while encouraging inclusion of people with disabilities and their representative organisations.
Removing barriers to accessing humanitarian assistance
Myanmar continues to grapple with dire humanitarian situation, with 3 million people in need of critical assistance and protection services, as well as COVID-19 related support. The number of people in need includes displaced families from conflict-affected areas as well as those from outskirts of big cities like Yangon and Mandalay, where there are emerging humanitarian needs due to the impact of COVID-19 and disruption of services. The ongoing political developments since 1 February 2021, have further exacerbated existing vulnerabilities and protection risks, resulting in new displacement and reduced freedom of movement, access to protection, basic services and livelihoods for affected people.
Hnin Thiri Naing
Senior Humanitarian Communication and Reports Officer, Reporting and Public Information Unit