World must know story of curbing Covid-19 outbreak in Rohingya camps: speakers | The Daily Star
10:03 PM, July 05, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:05 PM, July 05, 2020

World must know story of curbing Covid-19 outbreak in Rohingya camps: speakers

Speakers at a virtual discussion today lauded the government's early planning and joint efforts with the UN and humanitarian partners to limit the transmission of coronavirus in the congested Rohingya camps in Bangladesh.

The speakers also opined that this story must be heard globally.

They vowed to continue working together to keep Rohingya people and the host community safe and protected.

Centre for Research and Information (CRI) hosted the live discussion titled "Let's Talk on Rohingya Response and Covid-19" today.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, UNHCR Representative in Bangladesh Steven Corliss, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mahbub Alam Talukder, Medical Officer and IPC focal for Leda ITC Sumaya Tasnim and Rohingya representative Jane Alam took part in the discussion moderated by Showvik Das Tamal.

Steven Corliss highly appreciated the government of Bangladesh and the RRRC for taking decisive actions with the support from the partners in limiting people inside and outside of the camps, and thus controlling transmission of the virus.

He also appreciated joint efforts in scaling up the health response and facilities for both Rohingyas and host communities.

"Covid-19 has increased humanitarian needs," said the UNHCR representative, adding that they are making the best use of funds reducing their own cost.

He, however, said they should not be complacent with the progress, noting that they have to improve testing capacity gradually ensuring facilities for the Rohingyas and the host community.

"Despite constraints, we have managed Cox's Bazar quite well. This is a good story and must be shared globally," Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said, also mentioning the Covid-19 scenario in various parts of the world.

The government has taken a coordinated approach with UN organisations and other stakeholders to deal with the Covid-19 situation in the camps, Mahbub Alam said.

The RRRC said five Rohingyas have so far died due to coronavirus among over one million Rohingyas living at the camps.

"So, the situation is not at alarming stage. We are not panicked. We are well prepared now. We can fight Covid-19 well with the support from all."

ROHINGYA REPATRIATION

The foreign secretary said the repatriation efforts have slowed down to some extent due to coronavirus and they are trying to expedite it.

The clearance operation in Rakhine State and violence created instability there, hurting confidence of the Rohingyas again, he also said.

"The current situation isn't helpful," Masud Bin Momen said, stressing on accountability issues.

Responding to question, Secretary Masud said the government's key target is to repatriate Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine safely.

He said the government took up the Bhasan Char plan to minimise multiple risks for the Rohingyas including landslides, trafficking and radicalisation.

"I have visited Bhasan Char. All facilities are there. Even recent cyclone Amphan could not leave any impact on Bhasan Char," said Foreign Secretary Masud.

Currently 306 Rohingyas, including women and children, are living there, he informed.

"But that doesn't mean that Rohingyas will continue to live in Bangladesh for an unlimited period. Our main target is to repatriate Rohingyas," he said.

Bangladesh wants other countries to share the burden of providing better life and living for persecuted Rohingyas in their own countries or relocate and settle them in third countries.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen recently said that almost three years have passed and not a single Rohingya has returned home although Myanmar agreed to take them back.

Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar and most of them entered Bangladesh since August 25, 2017 amid military crackdowns in Rakhine State.

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