UN Begins Second Largest Vaccination Drive In Bangladesh’s Rohingya Refugee Camps
- IWB Post
- October 12, 2017
Amidst strong fears of possibly an outbreak, The United Nations began a massive drive of vaccinating a million people living in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh.
A huge number of refugees stood in queue braving heat outside temporary health centers to receive oral vaccine.
According to a Unicef representative, the UN is working with the Bangladesh government to vaccinate 650,000 people living in the sprawling camps against cholera, who lack basic sanitation necessities.
“When we have this kind of situation, there’s a heavy possibility of a cholera outbreak,” the representative added.
Nearly 520,000 Rohingya Muslims have arrived in Bangladesh since late August, fleeing persecution in Myanmar that the UN has said is likely to amount to ethnic cleansing.
Poor and overpopulated, Bangladesh has struggled to cope with the influx of people, many of whom have to travel for days or weeks to reach.
The influx had slowed in recent weeks, but appears to have picked up again. An estimated 10,000 refugees arrived on Monday.
World Health Organisation workers, supported by about a thousand local volunteers, plan to vaccinate 650,000 Rohingya over the coming weeks.
They will follow up with a second dose of the vaccine for an estimated 250,000 children aged between one year and five years. Those under a year old will not be vaccinated.
It is thought to be the second-biggest such campaign after 800,000 people were immunised against the disease in Haiti in November.
Volunteers at the Thankhali camp used megaphones to appeal to refugees to go to the centres, where they queued to have the vial placed in their mouths.
“The health workers told us we would be better with medicines, that we wouldn’t have any more diseases,” said Nabi Hossain, a 35-year-old refugee who arrived at the camp two weeks ago, as he queued with two of his sons.
But aid workers are circumspect about how much they can do to protect from epidemics in camps that are bursting at the seams.