April marks the start of the cyclone season, and emergency preparedness activities are ongoing across the camps. This includes refresher training for volunteers who act as first responders in emergencies, distribution of tie down kits (rope and wire) to reinforce refugee shelters, and awareness raising by volunteers via door-to-door visits, group sessions and pre-recorded voice messages to mobile phones. As the monsoon season will follow the cyclone season, monsoon preparedness in the camps is also taking place, including strengthening structures including shelters at risk of flooding, stabilizing slopes and maintenance of pathways, bridges, and roads for accessibility.
The United States Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain visited the camps on 18 and 19 April to meet with Rohingya refugees of different religions. In discussions, the refugees outlined challenges they faced in Myanmar and since arriving in Bangladesh.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MONTH
Over 100 supervisors of volunteer Community Health Workers in the camps took part in a workshop facilitated by UNHCR and partners specializing in gender-based violence. The objective of the workshop was to increase awareness and understanding of sexual misconduct by humanitarian workers, including sexual exploitation and abuse. Information about victim support and reporting mechanisms was also shared.
Training of trainers began for psychologists to roll out Integrated Adapt Therapy (IAT) in the camps. IAT is a brief psychological intervention that was developed to support refugees and other displaced persons, based on evidence-based techniques.
The psychologists will train Rohingya volunteers as Para-Counsellors to conduct counselling in their own communities. Research in the camps found that participants who underwent IAT reported statistically significant reductions in symptoms of depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and persistent complicated bereavement.
Over 70 small scale communal disputes were mediated by refugee committees. Refugee committees, supported by UNHCR and partners, function across four camps. In addition to mediation, the committee members hold meetings to identify community concerns and raise them at the camp coordination meetings and with humanitarian partners operating in the camps. Committee members also carry out awareness sessions on various topics including child marriage, and domestic violence.
An awareness campaign about skin diseases was conducted by 1,400 volunteer Community Health Workers (CHW) in the camps.
Over 100,000 refugees were reached through shelter visits and 4,000 referred to health services. The deployment of CHWs is part of a multisectoral response led by the Health Sector following a recent seasonal surge of a skin disease in the camps.
BHASAN CHAR: Electrification of the joint UNHCR – Government of Bangladesh Registration Centre was completed to enable registration activities to proceed. Updated identity documents are critical to ensure that refugees have access to all services. The data will also help UNHCR and other actors design programmes to support and assist the population. The centre will open in May.
Over 600 children (mostly girls) participated in structured psychosocial support sessions conducted by UNHCR, UNICEF and partners, at child friendly spaces on the island.
Three medical specialists started providing consultations virtually for refugees on the island. This model of telemedicine will enable refugees to access medical specialists based on the mainland; the refugees are supported by medical staff on Bhasan Char who can provide medicines and treatment, and referrals to the mainland when needed.