Cristiano Ronaldo is supporting Save the Children’s Rohingya humanitarian response by urging people to help refugee children who have fled the violence in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State and are now living in camps and makeshift settlements in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
“I count my blessings. I have four beautiful children. I would do anything for them. When you become a parent, you understand that all parents must feel the same way. We love our children,” said Cristiano Ronaldo, a Save the Children Ambassador. “It is difficult as a father to watch the Rohingya refugee crisis and not feel for these children. They need our care and support.”
Ronaldo has posted to his social media channels a photo of Saif* holding his son Shafiq*, 1 ½ years old, taken at a Save the Children-supported health clinic in Cox’s Bazar. Alongside the photo appeared a photo of Ronaldo with his children, including the message, “One earth where we all love our children. Please help. #Rohingya #Refugee @SavetheChildren.” The posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have a combined reach of more than 300 million followers.
Ronaldo also made a donation to support Save the Children’s child-friendly spaces in Cox’s Bazar, which offer children a safe place to play, socialize, recover and be children again. At these spaces, children can participate in a variety of games and activities, such as drawing, singing, jumping rope and playing football, as well as receive psychosocial support from skilled facilitators. The international humanitarian organization runs 86 child-friendly spaces in the camps and settlements.
“The experience of playing as a child is universal. It is a chance to make friends, unwind and have fun,” said Ronaldo. “I have strong memories of playing football when I was young, and the joy it brought to my life. I wish for Rohingya children to feel that same joy.”
Around 688,000 Rohingya – more than half of whom are children – have arrived in Bangladesh following a military crackdown that occurred after attacks were carried out on Myanmar police border posts in northern Rakhine state last August. Many families arrived in Bangladesh with only the clothes on their backs.
“We are grateful to Cristiano Ronaldo for making sure Rohingya refugee children are not forgotten,” said Mark Pierce, Bangladesh Country Director for Save the Children. “As he knows and understands, no matter where children live in this world, they all love to play. The activities offered in a child-friendly space can strengthen children’s resilience and help them begin to process their past suffering and imagine a happier future.”
“The situation for Rohingya children who fled to Bangladesh is alarming. Families live in basic shelters made of bamboo and plastic, and rely on food rations to survive. The monsoon rains are likely to cause major damage when they hit in a couple of months time and there is an ongoing risk of an outbreak of disease.
“While the government of Bangladesh and host communities have shown extraordinary generosity towards Rohingya refugees, the international community needs to step up funding to make sure Rohingya families are provided with the support they need. We are extremely grateful to Cristiano Ronaldo for the support he is providing for Rohingya children.”
A Save the Children Ambassador since 2013, Ronaldo continually uses his voice and visibility to draw attention to the world’s most vulnerable children. In December 2016, the soccer superstar sent a heartfelt video message of hope to Syrian children living under siege in Aleppo. Ronaldo’s post and donation comes as Save the Children releases a new report, “The War on Children”, which finds 1 in 6 children – at least 357 million globally – now live in areas affected by conflict.
To support Save the Children’s Rohingya response, visit: www.savethechildren.org/Cristiano.
(Save the Children)