Bangladesh begins vaccinations for tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees

‘We will vaccinate 48,000 Rohingya in 1st phase,’ says head of refugee relief commission

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) – Bangladesh on Tuesday began vaccinating tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees, officials said.

“We are going to give COVID-19 vaccine shots to some 48,400 Rohingya in the first phase by Aug. 18,” Shah Rezwan Hayat, head of Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC), told Anadolu Agency over the phone.

More than 1.1 million Rohingya have been living in the squalid makeshift tents in Bangladesh for years.

Since the virus was first detected in Bangladesh in March 2020, Rohingya refugees as well as aid agencies have been expressing concerns of possible outbreak of the virus in the congested camps in the country’s southern district of Cox’s Bazar.

Some 28 Rohingya refugees have died of the virus while nearly 26,00 others have been infected to date.

“The Bangladesh government is ready to gradually vaccinate all Rohingya at the camps in collaboration with the international aid agencies,” Hayat said, adding that very soon they would also launch a vaccination campaign at the country’s distant island of Bhasan Char for Rohingya living there.

Bangladesh in several phases have relocated nearly 20,000 Rohingya on the island amid opposition from the international community over the safety at the distant location reportedly prone to natural disasters.

However, no virus cases have so far been detected on the island till date.

Meanwhile, Rohingya refugees at the camp have also expressed satisfaction over the beginning of the vaccination campaign for them.

“It is a good news for us. But until we all are vaccinated, we are not safe from the virus as we live here in a very congested environment and it is almost impossible to maintain social distance at these settlements,” Mohammad Hizbullah, a 25-year-old Rohingya refugee, told Anadolu Agency.

According to the RRRC, the vaccination drive started at 56 centers in all 34 refugee camps. Rohingya aged 55 and above would be eligible to get their vaccine doses in the first phase.

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