Cyclone Amphan and COVID-19: Nightmare for Rohingya Refugees

Amid the measures to curb COVID-19 in refugee camps, the Rohingyas in Bangladesh have also been severely affected by Cyclone Amphan that ravages the entire territory of Bangladesh and India, Wednesday (5/20).

Cyclone Amphan damaged and flooded a number of Rohingya refugee camps. (UNHCR Bangladesh)

ACTNews, COX'S BAZAR - Not yet over the handling of Covid-19 in the Rohingya refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, storm Amphan came to sweep several refugee camps. Strong winds that hit parts of India and almost all parts of Bangladesh on Wednesday (20/5) that afternoon, causing a number of refugees homeless.

Aid workers say the cyclone could hamper efforts to control a coronavirus outbreak in the camps, which reported their first infections last week, as reported by Reuters.

"It is already a huge challenge to contain the spread of coronavirus amongst the Rohingya refugees living in over-crowded camps, sharing water and toilet facilities," said Dipankar Datta, the country director of charity Oxfam in Bangladesh.

The storm is predicted to hit Bhasan Char Island, where 306 Rohingya, members of a persecuted minority from Myanmar, were sent this month after being rescued from boats. About 300 Bangladeshi security officials are also on the island, as reported by Reliefweb.

"Each block has a cyclone center and they have been moved to the center," said Bimal Chakma, a senior official of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission.

The United Nations has called for the refugees to be moved to the mainland to join more than a million more who live in sprawling camps outside the town of Cox’s Bazar. []