FEATURE19 January 2022

Refuge from the storm: Covid-19 and refugees

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Asia Pacific Covid-19 Features Media UK

As Covid-19 hit, a BBC Media Action public awareness campaign began in a refugee camp for Rohingya in Bangladesh. By Liam Kay.

Rohingya Refugees walking with umbrellas holding a toddler

One of the world’s biggest refugee crises intensified in August 2017, as persecution in Myanmar led to thousands of Rohingya fleeing their homes in Rakhine state. Most settled in refugee camps in Bangladesh, which borders the province. One of the most prominent refugee camps, which is home to 800, 000 people, was in Cox’s Bazar.

Fast forward to 2020, and the onset of Covid-19 created substantial concern about the potential for an outbreak sweeping through the camp, potentially killing thousands of inhabitants. The local hospital had 340 beds, and there were concerns that the lack of medical capacity could create crisis conditions.

BBC Media Action was already working with non-profit organisations Internews and Translators without Borders in the camp, on a campaign, started in 2017, to help refugees access information and communicate with humanitarian groups.

When Covid-19 hit, it was vital to disseminate public health information about the virus within the camp. Arif Al Mamun, head of research at BBC Media ...