Bangladesh plans to vaccinate Myanmar Rohingya refugees against Covid-19

A filephoto shows Rohingya refugees gathered behind a barbed-wire fence at a temporary settlement setup in a "no man's land" border zone between Myanmar and Bangladesh, near Maungdaw district in Myanmar's Rakhine state. - AFP

YANGON, July 19 (dpa): Bangladesh plans to start rolling out inoculations against Covid-19 for the hundreds of thousands of Myanmar Rohingya Muslims living in crowded refugee camps next month, a senior official has announced.

"Subject to availability of the doses, we will begin administering the jabs among Rohingya anytime in August,” Shah Rezwan Hayat, chief of Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission, told dpa.

No specific date has been fixed for the campaign, he said.

Initially the focus is to be on some 50,000 Rohingya above the age of 55, to be vaccinated with the help of the UN agencies.

Further refugees will then be vaccinated once sufficient doses are available, he said.

Bangladesh has been hosting more than 1 million Rohingya Muslims in sprawling camps in its south-eastern district of Cox’s Bazar after they fled persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

Nearly 750,000 refugees crossed the border after the brutal military crackdown in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state in 2017.

Case numbers are reportedly rising in the camps, with health officials registering 2,161 infections with 24 deaths among refugees since the first case emerged in the camps in May last year.

A country of more than 160 million, Bangladesh has so far administered more than 1.05 million doses since its mass vaccination campaign began in early February.

The South Asian country, which has recorded a massive surge in case numbers in recent months, interrupted its campaign in April after India suspended vaccine exports over supply shortages. - dpa
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