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What waits for Rohingyas?

By Saifur Rahman Saif

Rohingya people, who have no identity of their own, are now facing another danger. The pandemic of COVID-19 took away one of the Rohingyas, who found shelter at a camp at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh on the wake of genocide in their own land in Myanmar.

United News of Bangladesh reported that the man died from coronavirus infection while undergoing treatment at the isolation centre at Ukhiya camp in Cox’s Bazar on Monday night.

Referring to Abu Toha MRH Bhuiyan, who works as a health coordinator at the Refugee, Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, the news agency stated that the deceased could not be identified immediately but he was a 71-year-old man.

It was the first confirmed case of death of a Rohingya refugee in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is now home for over one million Rohingyas, who fled atrocities in Myanmar to Bangladesh.

In my earlier article in  Countercurrents, I tried to draw attention of the world community so that they would come forward to save Rohingyas from probable contamination of COVID -19. I don’t know whether anybody heard my appeal. In fact, the Rohingyas are no longer safe now from the devastation of COVID-19. We don’t know what is waiting for the densely populated Rohingyas. I also don’t know who will save Rohingyas from further deaths? Is it the Bangladesh government or the world community?

Super power USA is now facing manifold adversity- destructions of COVID-19, street demonstrations across the country and, so on. Many other powerful countriesare also in peril today. And Bangladesh, with 709 confirmed case of death from COVID-19 and 52,445 infected, is has failed to control the spread of the coronavirus.

The Gono Forum came up with the allegation on Tuesday as its president Kamal Hossain and general secretary Reza Kibria in a joint statement said that although World Health Organisation on March 11 declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the government announced general holidays in the last week of the month.

They also said that although Bangladesh had enough time to determine national strategy, the government failed to implement a fruitful strategy, New Age reported.

The Gono Forum leaders said that the rate of COVID-19 tests in the country was very low and people had no confidence on government’s information on COVID-19 infections and deaths.

They also said that the late announcement of public holiday amid relaxation put impacted people’s lives negatively as it failed to control the infections.

They said that only a small part of government aids reached to the poor and vulnerable due to corruption and inefficiency while lakhs of labourers and working class people faced unemployment.

The leaders said that withdrawal of public holidays ignoring recommendations of national technical advisory committee had created much anxiety among the people and the situation was worsening for the lack of adequate number of tests and mismanagement in the health sector.

In this situation, I cannot think of a future for the Rohingyas, at least not the kind I really wished for.

Saifur Rahman Saif is a Bangladeshi journalist. He works at New Age, a popular newspaper. He contributed a story in Freelance Success Stories published simultaneously from the USA and Canada. He can be reached at saifnewage@gmail.com

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First Published in Countercurrents.org

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