While Bangladesh needs more in terms of money and material help for the Rohingya refugees, that is but a temporary palliative that will do very little to redress the distress of Bangladesh or solve the problems for the Rohingyas. We deem it necessary to reiterate the timely and very appropriate call of our prime minister to the UN, and to the international community under the auspices of the UN, to assume a stronger position in dealing with and evolving a permanent solution to one of the world’s worst humanitarian disaster of this century. The prime minister’s call underpins the very fundamental issue of the problem. And the longer it takes to get the Myanmar government to accept a solution, just and equitable to the Rohingyas, the more will the issue become resistant to resolution. And the longer the Rohingyas stay in Bangladesh in the current circumstances, the sufferings of all the parties will multiply.
Thus, while we thank the UN and the international community for pledging USD 597 million in humanitarian assistance for Rohingyas in the region we all know it falls far short of the USD 1 billion needed. Apart from increasing the aid amount, what we feel is equally imperative is that the UN should do more than what it has done so far to bring about a permanent solution to the crisis. No amount of money can lessen the tremendous long-term impact created by the presence of nearly a million Rohingya refugees on our soil for more than three years.
The Rohingya issue has exerted tremendous strain on the country’s economy, its social cohesion, ecology and security. The Rohingyas have fallen victims of human traffickers; become partners of narcotics and illegal weapon traders; the area is now a handy recruiting ground for religious and political extremists, and they have become a political tool of local politicians—being used as vote banks. Bangladesh is being pressured to issue passports to thousands of Rohingyas who have managed to travel to the Mideast. The corrupt and immoral government functionaries have reaped a healthy harvest by issuing them Bangladeshi NID cards and passports. For a country heavily encumbered by the pandemic and its economic consequences, the situation is becoming untenable.
Bangladesh requested the Philippines to Global political pressure on Myanmar together with all ASEAN members to take back the Rohingyas.
He paid a farewell call on Foreign Minister Dr Momen at the State Guest House Padma.
Radical elements can take advantage of the displacement and “regional and international security would certainly be jeopardised”.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen made the request through Ambassador of the Philippines Vicente Vivencio T. Bandillo on Sunday.
At the meeting, the Forign Minister sought Philippines’ support on voluntary and sustainable repatriation of the Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine State, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Dr Momen noted that the Philippines enjoys close ties with Myanmar that the latter should leverage its influence to resolve the Rohingya crisis.
To allay the fear of the Rohingyas, he said, Bangladesh has long been proposing formation of an ASEAN-led nonmilitary civilian observer group.
Myanmar is not coming forward positively to implement this proposal.
The Ambassador assured the minister of doing the needful for completing the MoU soon.
He paid a farewell call on Foreign Minister Dr Momen at the State Guest House Padma.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and partner organizations have further intensified their COVID-19 response in the Rohingya refugee camps in the Cox’s Bazar area of Bangladesh, following the first confirmed case of coronavirus among the refugee population yesterday. Since March, UNHCR and partners have been supporting the Government of Bangladesh primarily in COVID-19 preparation and prevention efforts. With this first confirmed case, response mechanisms have now been activated and will require additional international support.
According to the Government of Bangladesh, one Rohingya refugee has tested positive for COVID-19 in the Kutupalong refugee settlement in Bangladesh. In addition, one member of the local Bangladeshi host community has also tested positive. Both had approached health facilities run by humanitarian partners, where samples were taken. These were subsequently tested in the IEDCR Field Laboratory in Cox’s Bazar.
Following the laboratory confirmation, Rapid Investigation Teams have been activated to investigate both cases, initiate isolation and treatment of patients as well as tracing contacts, quarantine and testing of contacts as per WHO guidelines.
Testing began in the Cox’s Bazar District in early April. As of yesterday (14 May), 108 refugees have been tested. response
There are serious concerns about the potentially severe impact of the virus in the densely populated refugee settlements sheltering some 860,000 Rohingya refugees. 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. No effort must be spared if higher fatality rates are to be avoided in overcrowded sites with limited health and water and sanitation infrastructure.
953,000 people of Cox’s Bazar are now eligible to receive coronavirus-related services from UN-led international community
The 2020 joint response plan (JRP) has been updated with an addendum to provide Covid-19 related services to more Bangladeshis in Cox’s Bazar, multiple sources have told Dhaka Tribune.
On March 3, United Nations agencies and NGO partners launched the 2020 JRP for the Rohingya humanitarian crisis.
The appeal aimed to raise US$877 million to respond to the needs of approximately 855,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and over 444,000 vulnerable Bangladeshis in the communities generously hosting them.
Following the outbreak of the coronavirus, a necessity was felt to update the JRP to fight the virus in order to protect the Rohingyas living in 34 congested camps and the vulnerable host communities, said the sources, adding that an addendum was then added to the JRP to make it worth $1.06 billion from $877 million.
The updated JRP will enable the provision of Covid-19 related services to 509,000 people from Cox’s Bazar in addition to 444,000 people from the host communities included in the original JRP.
An official of the Inter-Sector Coordination Group, which coordinates the humanitarian activities with respect to the Rohingya crisis, made it clear that the additional 509,000 Bangladeshis are only eligible for services related to Covid-19.
“Under the 2020 JRP, the target is to fulfill the needs of 855,000 Rohingyas. It also aims to meet the needs of 444,000 people belonging to the host communities. The people of the host communities will get support in accordance with their necessities,” he said.
However, he added: “The additional 509,000 considered by the addendum will only receive services related to Covid-19.”
“Undoubtedly, it has been a great help for the people of Cox’s Bazar. With this addendum, more than one third of the population of Cox’s Bazar district can receive quality health care,” said another official.
More than 20 percent of Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugees are struggling with mental health issues, a grim result of the abuse and trauma suffered in Myanmar, an official from the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Saturday.
The statistics were shared on World Mental Health Day, which is marked on Oct. 10 every year, and seeks to highlight the plight of nearly a million Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, the world’s largest refugee camp.
According to data from the Ministry of Health and shared by the WHO, there were 14,819 consultations for mental health conditions registered by the district health department among the Rohingya in 2019.
From January to now the figure has jumped to nearly 20,000.
Most cases were addressed by healthcare centers at the camps, where Rohingya patients were given counseling and treatment.
“In the aftermath of a crisis, one person in five (22 percent) is estimated to have depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia,” WHO spokesperson Catalin Bercaru told Arab News. “The psychosocial and social impacts of emergencies may be acute in the short term, but they can also undermine the long-term mental health and psychosocial well-being of the affected populations.”
The Rohingya have endured decades of abuse and trauma in Myanmar, beginning in the 1970s when hundreds of thousands sought refuge in Bangladesh.
Between 1989 and 1991 an additional 250,000 fled when a military crackdown followed a popular uprising and Burma was renamed Myanmar. In 1992, Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed on a repatriation deal that led to thousands of Rohingya returning to Rakhine state. The exodus to Bangladesh resumed a few years ago.
While the refugee crises created by the conflict in Afghanistan and the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas in Myanmar may appear to be disconnected, they are both part of a major migration upheaval in South Asia that the COVID-19 pandemic has only complicated. Already living on the margins of society, Afghan and Rohingya refugees have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. Host countries and the international community need to do more to help alleviate the unique challenges that the pandemic has caused for both of these populations.
Before the pandemic, Afghan refugees in Pakistan already faced disadvantages in access to education, healthcare, banking and financial resources, and property. They have also been subjected to police brutality and arbitrary detention by security forces. While Pakistan does technically have birth right citizenship, this right has been routinely denied to the children of Afghan refugees born in Pakistan, and Prime Minister Imran Khan backed away from his original plan to revise this policy due to political backlash. Given the additional uncertainty around whether these children may be granted Afghan citizenship (many have never set foot in Afghanistan), the risk of statelessness is enormous and carries serious repercussions for the already dire legal and human rights situation faced by Afghan refugees.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these challenges. Though Islamabad lifted its lockdown measures, the initial shutdown caused major disruptions to the day labor sector in which many Afghans work. Restrictions on public gatherings limit already scarce economic opportunities, demonstrated by the closing of a major vegetable market in Islamabad that employed many of the Afghans residing in a nearby refugee camp. Additionally, the constant threat of deportation continues to have a profound effect on the psychological health of Afghan refugees who are now dealing with the additional anxiety of pandemic-related uncertainty. Additionally, the initial closing of key Afghanistan-Pakistan border crossings meant that asylum seekers fleeing violence in Afghanistan would find seeking refuge in Pakistan much more difficult and dangerous, making them significantly more vulnerable to human traffickers and exploitation by criminal networks.
Bangladesh, one of the world’s most densely populated countries, is also home to the world’s largest refugee camp. Across the Cox’s Bazar area of southeastern Bangladesh, nearly one million Rohingya refugees who fled targeted violence in neighboring Myanmar now live in overcrowded, unsanitary camps. As the novel coronavirus pandemic spreads through Bangladesh, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) country representative Paul Brockmann reflects on the current situation for Rohingya refugees, and the medical and logistical challenges COVID-19 will pose to the medical humanitarian response.
Running medical activities in the world’s biggest refugee camp is challenging enough at the best of times. Maintaining these amid the biggest global health crisis of our time is nothing less than Herculean.
MSF has been rapidly scaling up our facilities to respond to COVID-19 in Bangladesh, with isolation beds available in our projects in Cox’s Bazar district. We have rolled out tailored COVID-19 training for all staff, on everything from basic infection prevention and control measures to protocols on managing patients with COVID-19. An effective medical response to COVID-19 requires more than isolation beds, however. We need sufficient staff and medical supplies to protect them and to treat patients, to ensure continuity of care for our other patients, and to ensure effective community engagement and trust.
One of the immediate impacts of the pandemic has been the erosion of trust. Bangladeshi and Rohingya people are understandably frightened. Rumors and misinformation are rampant, and this is endangering people’s access to care. Tragically, one widely believed rumor amongst Rohingya refugees is that if they are found to have COVID-19, they will be taken from their families and killed.
These fears are keeping people in need of essential (non-COVID-19) treatment away from clinics. Over the last few weeks, we have seen a stark decline in patient numbers. Our facilities have emptied; we are seeing half the number of patients we would normally.
Before COVID-19, our Kutupalong hospital normally saw 80 to 100 patients a day for wound dressings—many for chronic wounds, which need regular cleaning and dressing every two or three days to prevent infection. At present, our medical staff are only seeing around 30 of these patients a day. Without treatment, dressings are likely to become soaked and dirty, risking infection, which can lead to sepsis and possibly even death. Community engagement and empowerment.
On 30 January 2020, COVID-19 was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on the recommendation of the WHO’s Emergency Committee. By 11 March 2020, WHO declared the virus a pandemic—the first coronavirus to be declared as such. Bangladesh recorded its first COVID-19 cases in early March 2020, and since then cases have continued to increase exponentially. At the time of reporting, 317,528 positive cases, 211,016 recoveries and 4,351 deaths had been reported.
Currently, more than 860,000 Rohingya reside in the world’s largest, most densely populated refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. With a population density of 40,000 people/square kilometre, the risk of COVID-19 infection is high. The risk of morbidity and mortality is compounded by a nexus of factors, including local transmission (within Bangladesh), limited health infrastructure, poor health-seeking behaviours, shared sanitary facilities and general unhygienic living conditions. In February 2020, data was collected from 407 listening groups conducted by different agencies. Among them, only 1.2 percent of the groups mentioned coronavirus. The lack of awareness is amplified by the telecommunications blackout imposed across the camps in September 2019.
In early April, the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in the host community, followed by the first case in the camp on 14 May 2020. As of 5 September, 4,056 cases were confirmed in the host community (65 deaths) and 130 cases (6 deaths) in the camps.
In order to mitigate the effects of the pandemic in Cox’s Bazar district among both the Bangladeshi and Rohingya communities, World Vision developed and implemented a COVID-19 response plan as part of the organisation’s global COVID-19 Emergency Response (COVER). The programme’s strategic objectives aimed to.
There has been zero motivation on the part of the authorities concerned in Myanmar.
Myanmar’s allegations directed at Bangladesh at the United Nations General Assembly, where it claimed that Bangladesh is harbouring terrorists in the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, are not only baseless and laughable, but an attempt on the part of Myanmar to defame Bangladesh’s humanity in sheltering the Rohingya.
Our neighbour to the east talking of the Rohingya issue as a “bilateral problem” has no basis; the Rohingya issue is Myanmar’s problem alone, and has occurred as a result of its inhumane treatment towards them.
By now, it has been well established that Myanmar will do anything it possibly can to avoid responsibility for the Rohingya crisis; it has been three years since the mass exodus of Rohingya refugees landed in Bangladesh, arriving in hundreds of thousands after being forced to flee their homes in Rakhine State due to the brutality of the Myanmar army.
Since then, Bangladesh has made repeated calls to safely expatriate the Rohingya to their homeland, but there has been zero motivation on the part of the authorities concerned in Myanmar to ensure that the Rohingya — its own citizens — can return safely and are can enjoy the same rights and dignity afforded to any citizens of a country.
It is about time the world took notice of and paid attention to these underhanded tactics employed by Myanmar, who are stooping to new lows now while continuing their atrocities towards their minorities and turning a blind eye towards repatriation.
Newly-appointed Permanent Representative to UN, Geneva, Mustafizur Rahman presents his letter of credentials
Dhaka has urged the United Nations to play a more proactive role to find an acceptable solution at the earliest to the protracted Rohingya crisis that has been affecting Bangladesh in a bad manner for a long time.
Bangladesh’s newly-appointed Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Mustafizur Rahman made the call while presenting his letter of credentials to Tatiana Valovaya, director-general of the UN, Geneva, on Monday.
Permanent representative Rahman also apprised the UN’s top official in Geneva of the different activities undertaken by the Bangladesh government to combat Covid-19 pandemic.
Projecting the successes of the country in socioeconomic issues achieved in over a decade, he highlighted continued GDP growth, education, health, women empowerment, food security and steps taken to tackle the adverse effects of climate change.
On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the UN, Rahman praised the global body for its contribution to development, human rights, and establishing world peace and security.
Under the current world situation, the necessity of the UN is being felt anew, he observed. The permanent representative thanked the UN for its contribution to Bangladesh’s development journey and reiterated the country’s continued support for the global body.
Welcoming the permanent representative to Geneva, Director-General Valovaya laid emphasis on continuing the implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in a post-Covid world.