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News in Brief 15 May 2020

News in Brief 15 May 2020

This is the News in Brief, from the United Nations.

Bangladesh: First case of COVID-19 infection confirmed in Rohingya camp

After confirmation that the first cases of COVID-19 infection have been identified in an overcrowded refugee camp in Bangladesh, UN humanitarians have announced additional measures and appealed for funds to prevent the disease from spreading.

In Geneva, UN refugee agency (UNHCR) spokesperson, Andrej Mahecic, relayed Government confirmation that one Rohingya refugee had tested positive for the new coronavirus in the Kutapalong settlement in Cox’s Bazar, along with an individual from the local Bangladeshi host community.

“There are serious concerns about the potentially severe impact of the virus in a densely populated refugee settlement sheltering some 860,000 Rohingya refugees. Another 400,000 Bangladeshis live in the surrounding host communities. These populations are considered to be among the most at risk globally in this pandemic.”

UN agencies have already put in place a series of concerted COVID-19 contingency measures, including the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

It has provided upgraded triage areas in 35 primary care facilities along with three isolation and treatment centres; also nearing completion is a quarantine centre for 465 people and 250 beds for people with severe acute respiratory infection.

While the arrival of the pandemic was expected, it adds further pressure on extremely vulnerable individuals preparing for the approaching monsoon season.

To help, the World Food Programme (WFP) is busy clearing drains and stabilising slopes that have the potential to give way in heavy rain.

The agency has warned that COVID-19 threatens to reverse development gains made by Bangladesh in the last 50 years and has appealed for $320 million to help the most vulnerable.

UNICEF alert on vaccination and protection gaps in DR Congo linked to pandemic

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is facing a resurgence of polio, measles and yellow fever linked to a lack of vaccines, and the situation will “almost certainly worsen” as COVID-19 infections spread, UN children’s fund, UNICEF, said on Friday.

The vast country is out of vaccines to prevent measles, polio, yellow fever and BCG.

It is also running low on inoculations against hepatitis B, tetanus and rotavirus, while routine vaccination rates for children, fell by up to 10 per cent in January and February this year, compared with the same period in 2019.

UNICEF said that this is mostly owing to poor cold chain systems, low coverage and vaccine shortages.

It has warned that the emergence of COVID-19 cases in March will make matters worse, because health workers carrying out routine vaccinations do not have adequate protective equipment for themselves or others.

Parents are also reluctant to attend vaccination sessions for fear of exposing themselves and their children to COVID-19, the agency said.

Beyond vaccination, COVID-19 disruption of health systems and access to food could mean tens of thousands of additional child deaths could happen in DR Congo in the next six months.

Libya refugees and migrants ‘desperate’ amid food price spike: UNHCR

Finally, to Libya, where the UN has been helping desperate refugees and migrants who’ve been unable to work because of a curfew and other restrictions linked to the new coronavirus pandemic.

In the last two weeks, the UN refugee agency UNHCR has provided emergency assistance - including enough food for a month and hygiene kits - to 3,500 refugees and Libyans.

They include more than 700 refugees in detention and around 1,500 Libyans who’ve been displaced by continuing violence across the country.

Citing a survey by the Mixed Migration Centre, the UN refugee agency UNHCR, said that three in four refugees and migrants likely lost their jobs in March and April.

Food prices have also spiked in most cities in Libya since COVID-19 measures were implemented, with the average cost of tomatoes up by more than 200 per cent in places.

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

  • Bangladesh: First case of COVID-19 infection confirmed in Rohingya camp

  • UNICEF alert on vaccination and protection gaps in DR Congo linked to pandemic

  • Libya refugees and migrants ‘desperate’ amid food price spike: UNHCR

Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Photo Credit
© UNICEF/Suman Paul Himu