Living in fear: coronavirus is confirmed in Cox’s Bazar
In Bangladesh, Rohingya refugees have been bracing themselves for the coronavirus pandemic
Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh is home to nearly a million Rohingya refugees, making it one of the largest refugee camps in the world.
Before the camp went into lockdown because of coronavirus, daily life was already hugely challenging. Now, with two cases of the virus confirmed in the camp yesterday, the lack of basic infrastructure and essential items, as well as the impossibility of social distancing, could have devastating consequences.
Just ten ICU beds service the entire Cox's Bazar area and there are currently no ICU beds in the refugee camp itself – these are being built. The ICU referral hospital in Cox's Bazar is about an hour's drive from the camp.
– Mohammed Riyas, Director of Programmes in Cox’s Bazar, Plan International Bangladesh
With fears about the pandemic growing, girls and young women in the camp have been bravely reaching out to support their communities – but they can’t protect themselves and one another alone and urgently need essential supplies.
That’s why, through our Coronavirus: Children’s Emergency Appeal we’re working to reach vulnerable children and their families, including those living in Cox’s Bazar, with lifesaving support.
“We are learning a lot about good hygiene practices and handwashing these days,” says 15-year-old Kawsara.
“I can help my community protect themselves from coronavirus, I can raise awareness about handwashing practices, maintaining hygiene and sneezing etiquette. However, this would not be enough in the camp. We need soap, face masks and towels.”
“Since the lockdown started my daily routine has totally changed,” says 16-year-old Meghla. “I can’t sleep well now as I feel stressed. I am always in fear and worried that my relatives or loved ones might be affected.
"I am thinking of ways to raise awareness among my neighbours and peers. These days, getting or extending support to someone is very difficult.”
Habiba, 24, has been visiting houses in her community to tell people about handwashing, social distancing, wearing face masks and personal hygiene.
“Many people do not have enough information about coronavirus. As a result, false rumours are spreading which is causing confusion,” she explains. "We need an adequate supply of soap, face masks and other necessary goods in the camp.”
19-year-old Rujina is pregnant with her first child. The nutritious food and regular checkups she needs for her pregnancy have already been disrupted because of the crisis.
“I am locked down in my house and living in fear,” she says. “At the moment we have some food which we had stored but within a few days, that will run out. I don’t know when this crisis will be over.”
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