Myanmar + 13 more

UNHCR Asia and the Pacific COVID-19 External Update (6 August 2021)

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Situation Report
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9.8 million Persons of concern

4.2 million Refugees and Asylum seekers

3.5 million Internally displaced persons

158,000 Returnees

2.3 million Stateless persons

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Myanmar has seen a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in since June, with preventative measures and related movement restrictions in place across the country, including road closures which have impacted the evacuation of flooded areas of Kayin State. A case-surge in Kachin and Shan States has compelled some IDPs and villagers to self-impose lockdown. Preventative measures, coupled with an increase in prices, have impacted livelihoods and access to basic services. The political situation following the 1 February military takeover has disrupted the national COVID-19 response - diminishing testing and quarantine capacities, limiting essential health services, and pushing the health system to a point of near-collapse.

  • Bangladesh continued to see a significant increase in COVID-19 positive cases. In the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, as of 31 July, 2,451 positive cases and 27 deaths had been recorded since March 2020.
    Worryingly, over 1,200 of these cases and 10 deaths were recorded in June and July alone.

  • Since July, Pakistan has been experiencing a significant fourth wave of CoVID-19 including spikes in cases and deaths, including from new variants. In response, the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) for COVID Response reintroduced restrictive lockdown measures across the country.

UPDATE ON VACCINATION

  • Under the Government of Iran’s inclusive policy, refugees and foreign nationals are included in the National Deployment and Vaccination plan (NDVP). However, the government faces constraints in operationalizing the NDVP, with challenges in the international procurement of vaccines linked to sanctions and access to financial channels. UNHCR in collaboration with WHO and UNICEF, has supported the Ministry of Health and Medical Education to apply via the COVAX Humanitarian Buffer to receive vaccines for 20% of the refugee/Afghan population (1.6 m doses) - outcome pending.

  • In Pakistan, all persons over 18 may now register for vaccinations by sending their Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) number to 1166 (free SMS) from any mobile phone, online at nims.nadra.gov.pk or by walk-in to the nearest centre. This includes Afghan refugees. On July 30, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah announced that modalities are being reviewed to facilitate COVID-19 vaccines for people living in Karachi (Sindh), without a CNIC after on the spot biometric registration at city’s the Mass Vaccination Centres. This will enable stateless and undocumented individuals to be vaccinated.

  • The Government of Bangladesh has approved the provision of COVID-19 vaccines for Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar from 10 August, starting with refugee leaders and frontline workers, including refugee volunteers, aged 18 years and above. This will be followed by refugees aged over 55. Altogether over 65,000 refugees are targeted to be vaccinated in the first cohort.

  • In Indonesia, UNHCR continued discussions with the National Refugee Task Force, city governments, and the Ministry of Health to include refugees in the national vaccination scheme, with advocacy support from an influential religious organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU). A possible solution involves contributions from UNHCR and IOM. UNHCR is working to mobilize support and funds from Embassies and private donors.