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Since August 2017, more than 700,000 people have arrived in Bangladesh, fleeing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and triggering one of the region’s largest and most complex humanitarian crises in decades.
Now almost three years later, Cox’s Bazar has become home to a sprawling city of camps, some of the largest and most densely populated in the world, filled with instability, overwhelmed health systems, extreme poverty, limited access to clean water and overcrowded living conditions, making life for those who live there, extremely precarious.
With the first few cases of Covid-19 recently confirmed in the camps, an outbreak could be nothing short of catastrophic.
They will have limited or no access to health facilities.
Some may fear to be arrested if they come forward for testing or treatment.
Others will not receive wages if they lose their jobs.
Implementing physical distancing will be extremely challenging, if at all possible.
Red Cross and Red Crescent societies have been hard at work conducting community outreach by building isolation facilities and water pumps, running prevention awareness activities and hygiene promotion, helping to counter rumours and misinformation and providing mental health and psychosocial support to people in distress.
For the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and other humanitarian partners, it has now become a race against time to prevent Covid-19 flying through the camps, as efforts to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe become paramount.