The Government of Bangladesh approved the provision of COVID-19 vaccines for Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar and the first round of vaccination was delivered in the camps from 10 to 23 August. 86 percent of the targeted population, refugees aged 55 years and above, received their first vaccine. A total of 36,943 of 43,093 targeted individuals were vaccinated. The second round of vaccinations will start in September.
Lockdown measures in place since April 2021 including in the Rohingya refugee camps, were lifted on 19 August. However, humanitarian access to the camps is still limited as per a memo issued by the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) dated 10 August, instructing ‘psychosocial healthcare’, Gender-based Violence (GBV) and awareness raising activities, among other protection services, to remain suspended.
A particularly wet monsoon season brought flooding and landslides killing tens of people and displacing some 24,000 refugees. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and partners have been providing emergency response support to those most affected, including repairing shelters, over 1,300 WASH facilities, community centres, access pathways, bridges and replenishing stoves and Liquid Gas Petroleum (LPG) cylinders.
Community psychosocial volunteers also provided support to over 1,000 individuals affected. Some refugee families were relocated to their relatives’ shelters, while over 150 are receiving sand cement bags for flooring and extended pathways.
Bangladesh continued to see an increasing number of COVID-19 positive cases which have now surpassed 1.5 million. In the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, as of 31 August, some 3,000 positive cases and 30 deaths had been recorded.
Worryingly, over 1,100 of these cases and 10 deaths occurred in July and August alone.
While the Government has relaxed the countrywide lockdown, restrictions on activities in the camps remain in place.* Accordingly, facilities that offer services and safe spaces particularly for women and children, including learning centers, remain closed. UNHCR and some protection actors are still able to access camps for monitoring and delivering critical protection services. In some cases, access has been restricted on an ad hoc basis by Camp in Charges (CiC). UNHCR continues to advocate for the resumption of all protection services.
Registration is a good example of a service permitted to have resumed since 16 August. This has helped to address the backlog which accumulated since 2020, as registration sites were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Refugee and host community volunteers continue to contribute significantly to the humanitarian response while access to the camps remains limited.