CNA Staff, Jun 28, 2020 / 03:00 am
While hand washing and social distancing have been implemented around the globe as tools to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, refugees face challenges in putting these recommendations into practice, said one relief agency worker.
Inmanuel Chayan, a communications officer for Caritas Bangladesh, warned that many Rohingya refugees living in camps in Bangladesh lack the luxury of being able to follow public health guidelines to combat the virus.
“The Rohingya community face not only the challenge of living in overcrowded and flimsy shelters with up to ten or more people in one room, but they also use communal latrines and water facilities and space is limited where they receive food distributions,” Chayan wrote on the Caritas website June 26. “They cannot maintain the proper distancing or hygiene measures to provide effective prevention against the spread of the coronavirus.”
In addition, misinformation within the refugee camps has hampered efforts to implement preventative measures, he noted.
The Rohingya are a largely Muslim ethnic group who reside in Burma’s Rakhine State. In August 2017, the Rohingya faced a sharp increase in state-sponsored violence in Burma, also known as Myanmar.
The Burmese government refused to use the term Rohingya, and considers them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. They have been denied citizenship and numerous other rights since a controversial law was enacted in 1982.
The violence reached levels that led the United Nations to declare the crisis “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
More than 1 million Rohingya fled across the border to Bangladesh. Most are living in refugee camps, many of which are located in a swampy sort of “buffer zone” along the border between the two countries.