Under the leadership of the Government of Bangladesh, the humanitarian community continued providing lifesaving assistance and support to Rohingya refugees and members of the vulnerable host community in an increasingly resource-strained environment. The COVID-19 pandemic, compounded by the effects of devastating monsoon rains, has exacerbated suffering and humanitarian needs.
The emergency health response was scaled up according to the rising trends of COVID-19 cases in the refugee camps and host communities, while increases in cases of Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD) required a simultaneous multi-sectoral response. In end-July, flash floods and landslides battered the camps, tragically causing six fatalities and affecting thousands of refugees. It is the second year in a row that the monsoon season was preceded by a period of reduced preparedness and disaster risk reduction activities due to COVID19 lockdown restrictions, contributing to a need for a more robust emergency response.
In line with a strict national COVID-19 lockdown, humanitarian activities in the camps were delivered at drastically reduced levels. Thousands of Rohingya refugee and host community volunteers worked tirelessly to deliver the most critical services in the response with COVID-19 prevention measures in place. However, the humanitarian community remained concerned by the deterioration of the overall protection environment in the camps; the need for reliable access to services including case management, psychosocial support and referrals, particularly in response to cases of gender-based violence and child protection issues, remained as critical as ever.
Despite these vast challenges, preparations for the upcoming launch of the COVID-19 vaccination for Rohingya refugees -- a demonstration of equity and inclusiveness as part of the Government’s National Deployment and Vaccination Plan -- brought hope for vulnerable Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.