UN, agencies step up response to virus in crowded Myanmar refugee camps in Bangladesh

  • AseanPlus News
  • Saturday, 16 May 2020

A health officer is walking wearing a hazmat suit at the Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp in Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh. UN are acting fast on Saturday (May 16) after authorities had reported the first coronavirus case in the crowded camps for Rohingya refugees in southern Bangladesh, where more than 1 million refugees have been sheltered, a Bangladeshi official and the United Nations said. - AP

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations and partners have stepped up response to Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic in Myanmar Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh, following the first confirmed case there, a UN spokesman said on Saturday (May 16).

In addition to the Rohingya refugee testing positive, one person in the neighboring local community also has tested positive, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

"The UN Refugee Agency says there are serious concerns about the potentially severe impact of the virus in the densely populated refugee settlements," said Dujarric.

"Another 400,000 Bangladeshis live in the surrounding host communities."

These populations are considered to be among the most at risk globally in this pandemic, he said.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is preparing a specialised treatment centre with 210 beds while providing personal protective equipment in Cox's Bazaar. UNICEF is also supplying safe water and soap for 240,000 of the Rohingya refugees, more than half of whom are children, the spokesman said.

The World Food Programme is calling for 320 million U.S. dollars to provide food and cash transfers to the most vulnerable families in Bangladesh in the pandemic.

The WFP is ensuring physical distancing at food distribution sites in refugee camps, using loudspeakers to inform about distributions and virus prevention strategies, said Dujarric.

The agency is also continuing to prepare for the approaching monsoon season, which could further complicate the current situation, Dujarric said. Last year, more than 4,000 refugee families were displaced in a 24-hour period during one of the heaviest downpours.

Beginning in 2017, about 1 million Rohingya people fled violence in neighboring Myanmar, with most of them going to camps at Cox's Bazaar.

To make matters worst, India and Bangladesh recorded thousands of new Covid-19 cases on Friday, with the later reporting the highest daily increase since March 8.

The number of new infections in Bangladesh rose by 1,202, as the total number of cases exceeded 20,000. The total number of cases in India surpassed the 80,000 mark, reaching 81,970.

India reported 100 more deaths, besides fresh 3,967 positive cases were reported since Thursday in the country, said the official data issued by India's federal health ministry.

For other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the Indonesian government announced 490 new confirmed cases of Covid-19, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 16,496. - Xinhua/Asian News Network
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