Four quarantine centers supported by UNHCR have also been established for those who have had contact with Covid-19 positive patients and require isolation
UNHCR has established two Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Isolation and Treatment Centres (SARI ITCs) with up to 200 beds, where Covid-19 positive patients are receiving treatment.
Four quarantine centers supported by UNHCR have also been established for those who have had contact with Covid-19 positive patients and require isolation.
In a press release, the UN Refugee Agency presented a report outlining the work done by UNHCR in Bangladesh when it came to tackling Covid-19 in Rohingya camps and Cyclone Amphan.
On 14th May, the first case of COVID-19 was detected in the Rohingya settlements. By the end of May, 29 cases were confirmed.
Relocation to Bhashan Char
On 2 May, after several weeks at sea, nearly 30 Rohingya came ashore in Bangladesh, including many women and children.
These refugees were subsequently sent by the Bangladesh authorities to Bhasan Char island. A further group of 277 Rohingya rescued at sea by Bangladesh on 17 May were also transferred to the island.
UNHCR together with other UN agencies have been invited by the government to undertake a protection visit to the island to ascertain the humanitarian situation and any immediate needs of the refugee population.
Discussions on the parameters of this visit are ongoing.
UNHCR maintains that any relocation of refugees to Bhasan Char should be preceded by thorough and independent assessments in five key areas: safety and sustainability, UN and humanitarian personnel safety and security, protection, sustainable livelihoods and logistics and access.
To date, these assessments are yet to be undertaken. Currently no specialized protection services are provided on the island by the UN or humanitarian agencies operating in Cox’s Bazar.
Cyclone Amphan made landfall near the coast of West Bengal/India and Bangladesh on 20th May. The refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazar were not directly impacted, but heavy rain and wind caused a number of incidents, including some 1,400 damaged shelters.
UNHCR is continuing to make preparations for the monsoon season with partner agencies to update emergency preparedness and response plans and revise protocols.
Refugee volunteers have received refresher orientation sessions and pre-monsoon kits are being distributed to refugees. Relief supplies are also prepositioned at locations in or close to the camps to ensure rapid response.
Rolling out IVR to expand coverage of messaging in camps
The Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) approved UNHCR to use an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system for engaging and communicating with refugees.
This technology is best known from customer service hotlines where callers are asked to press different numbers for different options. UNHCR’s protection team is also coordinating with IOM which is also testing IVR.
The IVR will enable UNHCR to send SMS or pre-recorded audio message services to refugees’ mobile phones.
Initially, UNHCR will target the refugees active in networks the agency works with, including volunteers, and expand over time to other users.
The technology can help ensure the delivery of time sensitive alerts, and accurate information on issues of concern to refugees, including COVID-19 or the impending monsoon season.
The first pilot broadcast of the system with messages targeting refugees started on 14 May with a target to reach 20,000 refugees in UNHCR managed camps.