“The world should not leave us behind, caged in a camp like this”

By Mohammed Tofail, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh,

Almost half a million Rohingya children do not have access to formal education inside the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar. When the children of other parts of the world are able to study online during the pandemic, the situation is pushing our children further behind. The world should not leave us behind, caged in a camp like this.

We are a scared community. Due to the spread of rumors about COVID-19 through word of mouth, people are now more scared about reporting illness and receiving treatment.

The internet blackout is keeping us in the dark about information related to COVID-19. Bangladesh has been so kind to us. Letting our people suffer in a pandemic by limiting access to essential information is against the country’s humanitarian goodwill. 

Since the camps were put under lockdown, people are having difficulty accessing relief supplies. Many non-government organizations that operated inside the camps before cannot offer support under the current circumstances. Some of the NGOs, that still operate inside the camps, cannot reach to us regularly or in time.

Right now, people are facing many hardships in their daily lives. Some households have to go without food at the end of the month.

More people seem to be suffering or dying from fever, cough, runny nose and symptoms of flu than before. They are afraid of visiting health facilities or reporting their illness because of the stigma around contracting COVID-19. Three persons have died from the virus inside the camp to date. We do not know how many lives this virus will cost us.

We are not able to follow the preventive guidelines. We live in a very crowded space. About five to 10 people live in an 80-square feet shelter. We are unable to maintain social distance. We can hardly maintain a hygienic environment where there is only one toilet for 50 families.

With lack of access to authentic information about Covid-19 many of us do not even know about the virus too well.

We escaped a genocide from Myanmar before, now we are scared about what more suffering this pandemic will cause to us.

Mohammed Tofail is a Rohingya refugee living in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

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