In the center of a ramshackle snack shop in the Narwal settlement in Jammu, India, 10-month-old Shafiqa sat atop a plastic coffee table and clapped her hands. Her grandfather Mohammad Rafik, who had just poured eggs into oil smoking on a wok on the stove, shot a quick look at her and yelled in Rohingya, “Wait for two minutes, you bossy monster!”

It was nearly 1 p.m. on a Friday, and Rafik had work to finish before afternoon prayer. A shirtless 6-year-old sucking on an orange popsicle walked confidently inside and lifted Shafiqa to his waist. “I’ll watch over this one and the shop, uncle,” he offered.

Nearby, the grocery store, fish stall, and barbershop were hurriedly closing up. As men in skullcaps rushed to the mosque, the six shops and more than 100 shops in the Rohingya refugee settlement suddenly seemed taken over by children, little guardians of the...

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