Imams, volunteers conduct COVID-19 awareness campaigns in Rohingya camps

Rohingya community volunteers and Imams are disseminating awareness messages on coronavirus among the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals in their camps in Cox’s Bazar so that they can protect themselves from the invisible enemy.

“Since the coronavirus crisis started, a training of trainers for 130 community health work supervisors was conducted and these trainers are in turn training more than 1,500 refugee community volunteers to work in the camps to ensure that the key messages are shared regularly with the Rohingya population,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Louise Donovan told BSS.

She said more than 400 protection community outreach workers are also supporting on message dissemination in the camps.

The UNHCR spokesperson said communications are ongoing in the camps and host communities through radio spots, video, posters, and messages, in Rohingya, Burmese and Bengali languages.

Imams, community leaders and volunteers are disseminating the messages in the camps explaining how the coronavirus spreads, how people can protect themselves and their families from its infection, and how they can understand symptoms of the disease and seek healthcare, she added.

At community level, the government has also rolled out messaging through multiple channels, including mobile phone networks and loudspeakers.

There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the camps as yet, but one case was confirmed in Cox’s Bazar town on 24 March.

COVID-19 is a huge concern to most people around the globe and the Rohingyas are no exception. Rohingyas are highly vulnerable to COVID-19 as they live in the highly overcrowded camps in Cox’s Bazar.

This is why the government and aid agencies are taking measures to ensure their access to accurate information and health advice on how to protect themselves and what to do if they fall sick.

Donovan said communication is a key to the timely and effective management of this situation and so, mobile data communications restrictions in the Rohingya camps should be lifted.

“Life-saving health interventions require rapid and effective communication. Humanitarian partners continue to advocate for reestablishment of internet connectivity within the camps, to ensure that all refugees have adequate access to information, and to enable communication between partners,” she added.

To contain the transmission of the coronavirus in the cramped Rohingya camps, the local administration has already imposed a lockdown in Cox’s Bazar district, considering the public interest. The lockdown came into effect on April 8.

In a recent Facebook post, Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Cox’s Bazar district Kamal Hossain said 34 Rohingya camps were brought under the lockdown, prohibiting mass gatherings and rallies and entrance of foreigners in the cramped camps to contain the spread of coronavirus.


Fleeing persecution in the predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, over one million Rohingyas have been living in the overcrowded camps in Cox’s Bazar.