No coronavirus among Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh: WHO

Rohingya refugees at a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 16 March 2020

No coronavirus among Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh: WHO

  • Although the camps are cramped with limited access to clean water, no coronavirus cases have been reported among refugees or aid workers
  • Aid agencies have been raising awareness among members of the Rohingya community about personal and food hygiene measures to avoid infection

DHAKA: No coronavirus cases have been reported among Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh despite overcrowding at their camps in Cox’s Bazar, World Health Organization (WHO) officials in Dhaka told Arab News.

More than a million Rohingya refugees are living in 34 camps in Cox’s Bazar district in southeastern Bangladesh.

Most of them fled neighboring Myanmar following a brutal military crackdown in August 2017. 

Although the camps are cramped with limited access to clean water, no coronavirus cases have been reported among refugees or aid workers tending to them, and no one has been quarantined, WHO officials said. Emergency preparedness measures in Cox’s Bazar have been in place for several weeks.

“There’s a global shortage of supplies for coronavirus preparedness and response,” WHO Bangladesh spokesman Catalin Bercaru told Arab News.

“Coordination among partners is underway on having supplies stocked to be made available as and when required.”

Besides emergency medical teams, more than 100 national and international partners are supporting the health sector in Cox’s Bazar, Bercaru said.

Health officials are ready to immediately isolate people showing coronavirus symptoms, said Louise Donovan, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) spokeswoman in Cox’s Bazar.

“If a person is believed to have contracted coronavirus, they’ll be kept in an isolated area until they can be safely transported to a designated isolation unit in a pre-identified facility,” she told Arab News.

Aid agencies have been raising awareness among members of the Rohingya community about personal and food hygiene measures to avoid infection.

“More than 1,400 refugee community health volunteers work within the camps to ensure key messages are shared regularly with the refugee population. These include systematic health prevention and promotion messages,” Donovan said.

“More than 400 protection community outreach workers will also support message dissemination, as well as other volunteers and community leaders.”

Donovan said communication is ongoing through radio, volunteers and community leaders. So far, eight people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in Bangladesh, according to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research.


Civilians, soldiers clash leaving 127 dead in South Sudan

Updated 3 min 22 sec ago

Civilians, soldiers clash leaving 127 dead in South Sudan

JUBA: Clashes between soldiers and civilians during a disarmament exercise in the central South Sudanese town of Tonj have left 127 dead, the army spokesman said Wednesday.
Major General Lul Ruai Koang told AFP that the fighting erupted on Saturday as security forces carried out an operation to disarm civilians in the area which has seen deadly inter-communal clashes.
More than six years after a civil war broke out in the country, and in the absence of a functioning government, many communities are flush with weapons, which they keep for protection or defense against cattle raids.
The violence in Tonj began after several armed youths got into a disagreement with soldiers. An initial armed confrontation was brought under control, but according to Koang the youths mobilized others for an attack on the army position.
“On the latest, the number of those killed, I can confirm to you that it rose to 127,” Koang said, adding that 45 of those killed were security forces and 82 were youths from the area.
A further 32 soldiers were injured.
Koang said two military officers involved in “triggering the clashes” had been arrested, and that the situation in Tonj had calmed down.
South Sudan is emerging from a six-year civil war that left 380,000 dead and millions displaced, and disarmament is a major stumbling block.
Experts have warned against operations that coerce people to lay down their guns without proper planning, as some communities could find themselves unable to protect themselves after their weapons are removed.
“The clashes should be an opportunity to rethink the approach to disarmament. What is the point of removing guns without addressing what drives folks to arms themselves?” Geoffrey Duke, head of the South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms, said on Twitter.
“We can take guns away this week & they buy a new one next week (as) long as they still see the need to have (one).”