It is surprising that the Rohingyas have so far been left out of the ambit of effective campaigns against coronavirus. In this context, we fully endorse the call by journalists and NGOs to launch coronavirus awareness campaigns in the Rohingya refugee camps. At this point in time, to have nearly a million people outside the government's virus prevention campaign is strange. While an effective way of preventing the spread of the virus is by maintaining social distance, given the condition of the camps, where the refugees are living in cramped conditions, other measures, like making face masks, soap and water widely available, along with restricted movement, should be implemented.
Another aspect of the effort to contain the spread of the virus is a robust campaign. But unfortunately, given the limited television access because of poor and irregular electric supply, the essential messages of the government campaign are not reaching the Rohingyas. It is essential that the dos and don'ts and vital information regarding coronavirus symptoms, and necessary instructions on prevention of the spread of the virus, get to the Rohingyas. Also, what cannot be overlooked is that, notwithstanding the security needs, the ban on mobile internet facilities also adversely affect the performance of aid workers and other agencies in their coordination and quick response efforts. This situation, we fear, has the potential to affect the lives of refugees, the local communities, and healthcare workers.
And for this, it is essential for the ban on the use of internet in the refugee camps be lifted immediately. Understandably, the ban was imposed with security in mind in September last year, but at a time like this, when the country is addressing the scourge of Covid–19, the situation as it occurs today with regard to the Rohingyas, carries the risk of compounding the problems, both of security and health.