Bangladesh begins inoculating Rohingya refugees against Covid-19

Dhaka, Aug 10 (EFE)- The authorities in Bangladesh on Tuesday began vaccinating Rohingya refugees against Covid-19 amid a sharp rise in cases in the camps in the southeastern part of the country.

The office of Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner said a total of 48,000 Rohingyas aged over 55 would receive a dose of the Chinese vaccine Sinopharm across 56 centers.

“It will take us five to six days to complete the jabbing. We don’t have an account of how many Rohingyas are eligible to take vaccines,” Deputy Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Shamsuddoha told EFE.

Shamsuddoha said the next batch of Rohingyas would be vaccinated as soon as his office received more doses from the government.

About 500 Bangladesh Red Crescent staff and volunteers are working in collaboration with UNHCR and health authorities in an urgent roll out of the vaccination campaign across the 34 Rohingya camps, according to a statement by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

“We are happy that Rohingyas are being given the vaccine. But everyone should be given the dose. Otherwise, we will have no option but to die,” Renuara, a 57-year old refugee, told EFE after receiving her jab at Kutupalang camp.

The vaccination of Rohingyas comes amid a nationwide drive to inoculate at least 3.5 million people in Bangladesh between Aug. 7-12.

Bangladesh saw a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases during Jul-Aug, prompting the authorities to impose a series of fresh restrictions and increase its vaccination drive.

According to data provided by the Directorate General of Health Services on Monday, at least 14,450,630 Bangladeshis have received the first dose of vaccine and 47,32,832 others have been administered the second dose until now.

The country has so far logged 1,365,158 cases of Covid-19 and 22,897 deaths, with a significant portion of the caseload and deaths recorded since July this year.

The United Nations refugee agency UNCHR told EFE that until Aug. 7, a total 2,355 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 27 deaths were recorded in the refugee camps.

The local head of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Cox’s Bazar, Hrusikesh Harichandan, called for “united efforts by national agencies and international organizations” to vaccinate the refugees.

“People in these camps are living in the shadow of the global vaccine divide. Widespread vaccinations are critical to contain this deadly virus,” Harichandan said in a statement.

Meanwhile, UNHCR spokesperson Hannah Macdonald told EFE that the humanitarian community was “extremely grateful to the Government of Bangladesh” for bringing the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh under its national vaccination plan.

Around 738,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh since Aug. 25, 2017, following a military campaign in response to an alleged attack by a Rohingya insurgent group against checkposts of the security forces. EFE


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