Latest Bangladesh lockdown puts refugees at risk

CARITAS Jamila 125Under the new lockdown rules, people will be allowed to leave their homes for emergencies only, which means that people cannot leave for work or to visit others. Public transport networks will also be closed for the week to further prevent people travelling.

This new lockdown will have a serious impact on the world’s largest refugee camp – Cox’s Bazar – where nearly one million Rohingya live in informal housing with already limited access to clean water, sanitation and healthcare.

“This lockdown will have a serious impact on everyone, but my biggest concern is the long-term impacts of this lockdown on the Rohingya people,” said James Gomes, Director at Caritas Bangladesh, Caritas Australia’s partner in Bangladesh.

“COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns mean that people living in the camps struggle to get access to clean water, sanitation, education and protection. It also makes it harder for us to continue our programs, because lockdowns mean that we have to work remotely and have limited access to the camps.”

The Rohingya community in Cox’s Bazar is also still rebuilding from the massive fire which swept through the camps in March this year, which left approximately 45,000 refugees homeless.

“To make matters worse, monsoon and cyclone season approaches, and the Rohingya will be at increased risk of losing their homes yet again,” said Mr Gomes.

“Our staff are also in lockdown, but we have been working in Cox’s Bazar for a long time, and will continue to support the Rohingya people and other vulnerable populations. We thank our Australian neighbours for their continued generosity through donations.”

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