©Arnaud Finistre

Rohingya volunteers from MdM speak about the impact of the pandemic in their camp in Cox’s Bazar, where it is said to have the highest risk of new coronavirus infection in the world.

“Since one case of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) was confirmed in the camp, we have been avoiding close contact in markets and places where people gather. People are wearing masks, washing their hands, and keeping a distance from each other when going to food distribution stations. All shops are closed except for stores that sell daily necessities and medicines, and the Bangladesh authorities are promoting COVID-19 measures. Also, we can no longer move freely within the camp. Approximately 30% of the people in our camps stay in shelters, but it’s also true that there are many who still don’t understand the situation.”

“It is very difficult for Rohingya who live in the camp to take measures against infectious diseases. In this camp where I am, shelters are set up at intervals of 4 to 5 yards (about 3.5m to 4.5m), and in each, a family of 5 to 10 people lives. How should we keep the distance? In addition, there are not enough medical staff and facilities to treat and test for COVID-19. It would be helpful to have a system that delivers food to the shelters, we could avoid crowding and keep social distance. Then we could avoid people.”

“Recently, I have been thinking about how to reduce the risk of infection and how to keep a social distance in a densely populated camp. We do not have tests here, and I don’t even have a disinfectant solution. I am really anxious about the idea of staying inside my shelter all day long in the hot season. I’m worried that I won’t be able to”

“Since the first new coronavirus (COVID-19) infected person was confirmed in the camp, where medical facilities are insufficient and medical support services are also limited, it is no longer possible to go to the market freely, and the price of daily necessities is rising. The Bangladesh government is strengthening infection control measures. However, the Rohingya residents of the camp cannot stay in their shelter forever. The shelters are hot.
We need sunshades for the shelters.”

“Everyone is very scared and anxious about infectious diseases especially during the rainy season. There is a high population density here, if an outbreak occurs we don’t know what will happen but we fear the worse. In addition, some elderly people refuse to go to the clinic because they fear to be quarantined. Under such circumstances, we are currently engaged in activities to convey preventive measures and correct information regarding COVID-19 to elderly people and others.”

“The thing that everyone here is worried about is that the COVID-19 crisis will delay the return process to our land, and we, the Rohingya, are more concerned about this than anything else.”

“I’m honestly worried about going to markets or food distributors. There are too many people. And before, I earned money by teaching English lessons to people. I have no choice but to take a break from my class and lose income, and I am worried about how I can support my family in a camp where prices are soaring.”

Even today, persecution and violence against the Rohingya and certain ethnic minorities continues in Myanmar. They have no power over their fate: human rights violations, refugee life, dismembered families, little or no access to education and medical care, and no freedom of movement. Above all, we will not give up supporting the Rohingya people. Together with the Rohingya community and the people of Bangladesh, we continue to work locally.

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