Years-long ordeal and the tireless struggle for survival have made Master Abdur Rahim adept to deal with potential disasters.
He, however, is worried about what lays in store for him and nearly a million other Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The virus, which has killed nearly 5,000 people in 118 countries and territories, reached Bangladesh last week.
Although only three COVID-19 cases have so far been confirmed in the Muslim-majority South Asian nation, refugees in the southern Cox’s Bazar district are distressed.
“We are poor. We are stateless. We are dependent on the mercy of others,” the community leader of the persecuted minority told Anadolu Agency.
He spoke of the vulnerable conditions they were living in — a breeding ground for all sorts of viruses.
“More than a million of our people reside in 34 refugee camps… four to five stay in a single makeshift room made of tarpaulin sheets and bamboo sticks,” he said. “Most of us sleep on plastic paper spreading on muddy floor in the tents. We have fewer options to think about our hygiene or take measures necessary to fight the coronavirus.”
Besides, the displaced community is still struggling for clean drinking water and flowing water in toilets let alone masks, liquid soaps or hand sanitizers.
“Some of us bought masks… 200 Bangladeshi taka [nearly $3] each,” Rahim said, adding that it cost around 20 takas until a few days ago. “Very few of us wash our hands and faces properly.”
He added: “We are panicked, praying to Allah to save us from this disaster.”
The global death toll from the virus has neared 5,000, with over 125,000 confirmed cases — the majority being in China, Italy, South Korea and Iran, according to the World Health Organization.