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Every day 5-year-old Jannat hunts for bottles and cans in the Rohingya refugee camp where she lives in Bangladesh – when she collects enough, she buys a snack to stave off her hunger pangs.

She is one of a growing number of children turning to garbage picking since the United Nations slashed rations for nearly 1 million Rohingya camp residents to just 9 cents a meal this month.

The cuts – forced by a massive shortfall in funding – have stoked fears of a rise in acute malnutrition and child deaths in the world’s largest refugee settlement.

“The Rohingya face grim choices to make ends meet. There will be grave repercussions,” said Simone Parchment, deputy director for Bangladesh at the UN World Food Programme (WFP), which has been supporting the refugees since they fled Myanmar.

Aid agencies predicted the cuts would fuel soaring crime and gang violence, potentially destabilising the camps, and encourage human trafficking as more people try to flee overseas, with ramifications for the wider region.

Increasing hunger could also drive up child marriage, child labour and domestic abuse as tensions spiral.

Jannat’s father, Karim, said his daughter was already losing weight. The family often skip breakfast and now subsist on rice and beans.

“Sometimes my children ask for an apple, but we don’t have the money. It makes us feel so guilty and helpless,” said community leader Karim, who asked to use pseudonyms for him and his family.

The Rohingya, a mostly Muslim minority from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, live in bamboo and tarpaulin huts in Cox’s Bazar in southeastern Bangladesh.

About 730,000 fled there following a 2017 army crackdown which the UN said was genocidal in intent, joining others from previous waves of displacement.

As World Refugee Day is marked globally on 20 June, refugees told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a video call that hunger was driving some families to marry off their daughters as young as 13 or 14 so they had fewer mouths to feed.

The Rohingya said crime was surging and were particularly alarmed by a spike in child kidnappings.

“A few weeks ago kidnappers cut off the hand of a teenager when his family couldn’t pay the ransom,” said Karim, adding that criminals target families with members abroad who they think will send money.

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