Rohingya refugees facing winter sickness crisis in Bangladesh refugee camps: Health officials

Rohingya refugees are seen at a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 31 December 2019

Rohingya refugees facing winter sickness crisis in Bangladesh refugee camps: Health officials

  • Children, elderly worst hit as cold spell sees rise in pneumonia, diarrhea cases at Cox’s Bazar

DHAKA: Health officials have warned of a winter sickness crisis among Rohingya refugees living in makeshift tents at camps in Bangladesh.

The cold weather currently gripping the country has increased the suffering for tens of thousands of the ethnic group’s people trapped in camps at Cox’s Bazar, with children and the elderly worst affected.

“As winter is getting heavier on the refugees in the camps, we have noticed an increase of pneumonia and diarrhea patients, and children are the most vulnerable of these cases,” Dr. Abdul Matin, civil surgeon in Cox’s Bazar, told Arab News.

“We are on alert to provide the best treatment to the refugees. Some of our hospitals and health centers are providing round-the-clock services for them.”

Matin, the highest-ranking health sector governmental official in the district, said doctors and medical officers at the state-run Ukhia General Hospital were on standby to provide maximum health care support to Rohingya patients.

To help prevent cholera from spreading among refugees, the Bangladesh government, with assistance from UNICEF (the UN Children’s Fund), was running an oral cholera vaccination program in 34 camps, with phase one due to end on Dec. 31, he added.

Matin pointed out that to protect children from pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, the government was also running an immunization program against acute respiratory infections.

FASTFACT

More than half of 1m Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh aged under 18.

“My six-year-old daughter has been suffering from diarrhea for the past three days. She can’t eat anything now, and whatever she eats or drinks she can’t hold for long, and vomits,” Amena Khatun, 38, a refugee queuing with her daughter at a health center in the Kutupalang camp, told Arab News.

Another Rohingya woman, Saleha Begum, 24, was waiting see a doctor with her three-year-old son at a center run by the BRAC health organization. “Little Arman (her son) hasn’t slept for the past two nights. He is suffering from serious respiratory problems. I don’t know what happened to him,” she said.

To combat the ongoing cold spell, health bodies have been running 129 medical posts at Cox’s Bazar refugee camps and 32 primary health care centers providing 24/7 services, said Louise Donovan, UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees) spokeswoman at Cox’s Bazar.

“UNHCR and partners have distributed winter assistance kits, which include blankets and sleeping mats, to over 86,000 households in order to help the refugees keep warm during the harsh weather. Further distributions are ongoing,” she added.

Bangladesh currently hosts more than 1 million Rohingya refugees, most of whom fled from Rakhine State in Myanmar following a military crackdown in August 2017.

According to UNICEF, more than half of the Rohingya population at Cox’s Bazar is under 18 years old.


Global civil unrest and violence in quarter of countries in 2019, expected to rise in 2020: Report

Updated 17 January 2020

Global civil unrest and violence in quarter of countries in 2019, expected to rise in 2020: Report

  • Identified Sudan as most troubled and “extreme risk” country in the world
  • According to the report, 2019’s biggest flashpoint locations were Hong Kong and Chile

LONDON: Nearly a quarter of the world’s nations witnessed a rise in unrest and violence in 2019 with the figure expected to rise in 2020, according to a study released earlier this week.

Verisk Maplecroft, a socio-economic and political analysis company, said in its index of global civil unrest that 47 of the world’s 195 countries were affected and that the number could hit 75 in the year ahead.

The UK-based consultancy firm identified Sudan as the most troubled and “extreme risk” country in the world, which had previously been held by Yemen.

According to the report, 2019’s biggest flashpoint locations were Hong Kong and Chile and neither is expected to be “at peace” for at least two years its researchers claim.

“The reasons for the surge in violent unrest are complex and diverse. In Hong Kong, protests erupted in June 2019 over a proposed bill that would have allowed the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China, However, the root cause of discontent has been the rollback of civil and political rights since 1997,” the firm said.

“In Chile, protests have been driven by income inequality and high living costs but were triggered by a seemingly trivial 30-peso (USD0.04) increase in the price of metro tickets,” it added.

Other countries now considered hotbeds unrest include Lebanon, Nigeria and Bolivia. Asia and Africa are disproportionately represented with countries such as Ethiopia, India, Pakistan and Zimbabwe also coming under the “extreme risk” label.

Since authoritarian leader Omar Al-Bashir was overthrown in April, Sudan was gripped by protests, violence and killings as armed forces battled democracy supporters for control of the new government.

The index predicts that a further 28 countries examined will see a “deterioration in stability,” suggesting that nearly 40% of all countries will witness disruption and unrest at some point in 2020.

Ukraine, Guinea Bissau and Tajikistan are all expected to see the sharpest rises in unrest, but the report highlights growing concern in the world’s biggest and most powerful countries as well.


Countries identified include the hugely influential nations of Russia, China, Turkey, Brazil and Thailand.

Maplecroft says there will be increased pressure on global firms to exercise corporate responsibility, especially those in countries “rich in natural resources where mining and energy projects often need high levels of protection.”

“However, companies are at substantial danger of complicity if they employ state or private security forces that perpetrate violations,” the report added.