Executive Summary / Highlights
COVID-19 infection rates across Bangladesh decreased significantly in January, with 21,626 new cases (down from 48,578 in December). The majority of national COVID-19 containment measures have been rescinded and compliance with those measures that remain in place (such as wearing of face-masks in public) is weak. The government has pushed a public information and enforcement campaign “no mask no service” but with limited success. Nationally the largest remaining restriction is on education as schools and education establishments remain closed.
The situation in Cox’s Bazar is similar to the national picture with an overall decrease in total caseload (although there was a small increase within the Rohingya population). However, COVID-19 related restrictions for humanitarian activities have been maintained in Cox’s Bazar camps. To restrict the spread of COVID-19 organizations are still expected to obey strict protocols including physical distancing, hand-washing, and mask-wearing • While COVID-19 containment measures have been mostly rescinded there are still restrictions on humanitarian activities as a mitigative measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
• Relocation of Rohingya refugees to Bhashan Char (a remote island in the Bay of Bengal) continues. Officials stated that only refugees who are willing to go will be moved and that relocations are needed to alleviate overcrowding. Humanitarian agencies & partners continued to identify protection concerns for advocacy and response including family separation, vulnerable refugees in need of medical attention, and custody and registration issues.
• Recent analysis highlights that Gender Based Violence is a major issue for the Rohingya community where one in four of the women and girls screened in Cox’s Bazar is a GBV survivor.
• Global Acute Malnutrition rates within the camps are high, but well below emergency thresholds, chronic malnutrition is widespread. Data indicates that the situation has not changed dramatically since the previous survey in later 2019. This would suggest that COVID-19 has not had a significant impact on malnutrition within the camps.
• Schools remain closed. Access to distance learning remains challenging for refugee children and children from the host community’s poorer families.
• Community feedback indicates that the opportunities to generate cash (including activities such as the informal economy and work through humanitarian programs) have been slow to recover and this is driving households to sell food aid.