Some 50 multipurpose cyclone shelters have been prepared and 256 cyclone preparation programme volunteer units provided cyclone early warning system messages to the community in Rohingya camp as cyclone Amphan is unlikely to hit Cox's Bazar district.
International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said they remain on standby to provide emergency support in the wake of damage to be caused by Amphan.
To reduce the risk of landslides within the Rohingya settlements during cyclone and monsoon season, Site Maintenance and Engineering Project - SMEP – a joint IOM, UNHCR and WFP initiative – identified and stabilised potential risk areas using bamboo and concrete walls.
To prepare and respond to Cyclone Amphan in Cox’s Bazar, 21 Union Disaster Management Committees were activated with support from IOM Bangladesh's Disaster Risk Reduction unit in Ukhiya, Teknaf, Ramu and Moheshkhali upazilas, according to IOM.
Just days after the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the Rohingya settlements of Cox’s Bazar, approximately 1.2 million Rohingyas and host community members now face the threat of Cyclone – a super cyclonic storm with maximum sustained winds of 265 kilometres per hour.
“We’re extremely concerned that there’ll be a new humanitarian crisis in the district if a cyclone hits while we try to contain the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Manuel Pereira, Deputy Chief of Mission for IOM Bangladesh.
“Communities are already vulnerable to the devastating health crisis and we know that if people are forced to seek communal shelter, they’ll be unable to maintain physical distancing and run the risk of contracting or transmitting the virus.”
IOM teams are using what they learned responding to Cyclone Bulbul in November 2019, to prepare for the new cyclone season, training first responders on early warning mechanisms and response activities, distributing and prepositioning supplies, renovating community cyclone shelters, reinforcing critical infrastructure, repairing drainage systems, enhancing individual shelter durability and raising awareness throughout the community.
COVID-19 Response Update
According to government officials, five cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the Rohingya population at Cox’s Bazar (based on 140 tests) as of May 18.
There have been 23,870 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 349 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths in Bangladesh, according to Bangladesh government statistics.
While large strides have been made to increase testing, strict limitations remain.
IOM staff are now engaged in a multifaceted response to contain the spread of COVID-19 while coordinating a comprehensive cyclone preparedness effort – alerting the community, reinforcing critical infrastructure and prepositioning emergency items before the cyclone makes landfall.
IOM is constructing new a 250-bed capacity Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Isolation and Treatment Centre (SARI ITC) which will contribute to the larger target agreed upon by the lead actors of the humanitarian community, IOM, UNICEF and UNHCR.
Triage areas in the 35 primary care facilities IOM supports along with three isolation and treatment centres, and a 93-unit contact-tracing quarantine centre large enough to accommodate 465 is nearing completion.
IOM is also setting up much needed oxygen provisions as a common pipeline service for treatment facilities supporting both its own and partners.
Through 24-hour hotlines and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology, IOM continues to respond despite operational challenges, providing life-saving information while dispelling harmful rumours and misinformation having reached more than 20,000 calls over the last weeks.
UK says its Wednesday’s chartered flight from Dhaka to take back British nationals home will leave on time even as extremely severe cyclonic storm ‘Amphan’ approaches Bangladesh.
The British High Commission in Dhaka confirmed the information on their verified Twitter handle, asking passengers to follow the instructions on itinerary provided by the CTM.
Cyclone ‘Amphan’ is expected to make landfall on Wednesday. The Met Office has issued danger signal 7 for 11 coastal districts and danger signal 6 for four other districts. The coastal districts are likely to hit by wind with speed up to 160 kilometres per hour.
A number of British citizens got stranded in Bangladesh amid the coronavirus outbreak when the government suspended air travel to curb the transmission of the virus.
The British government on Friday announced three more chartered flights from Bangladesh to take back more than 900 British travellers home.
The flights are scheduled to be operated on May 20, May 26 and May 31 on Dhaka-London route, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
People who are most vulnerable are being prioritised for seats on the flights, which will bring the total number chartered flights by the UK government from Bangladesh to 12.
Two connecting flights between Sylhet and Dhaka are also taking place on each of the days the flights from Dhaka to London are scheduled for.
Given the number of people who have already registered for a flight, the majority of seats are likely to be allocated to people who are already on the waiting lists.
The United States Embassy, including its Consular section, will remain closed on Thursday in observance of Shab-e-Qadr.
It will also remain closed on Sunday, May 24, in observance of U.S. Memorial Day holiday; and Monday, May 25 through Tuesday, May 26, in observance of Eid-ul-Fitr.
Emergency services for American citizens will be available over the holidays, said the US Embassy on Tuesday.
American citizens with emergency situations should call (88) (02) 5566-2000 and ask to speak with the duty officer.
The Embassy will resume normal working hours on May 27, and thereafter, including emergency services for American Citizens.
Ambassador of the European Union (EU) Rensje Teerink has laid emphasis on protecting the Sundarbans as it provides a natural barrier to cyclones.
She also hoped that Bangladesh will be spared as much possible due to the super cyclonic storm "Amphan".
"Bracing ourselves and hoping that Bangladesh will be spared as much as possible. It once again points to the importance of protecting the Sundarbans, as it provides a natural barrier to cyclones," the EU envoy wrote on her Facebook wall.
The super cyclonic storm, "Amphan", was laying over west-central Bay and adjoining area, and moving north and northeast-wards on Tuesday morning.
Amphan may cross Bangladesh coast between Khulna-Chattogram late tonight or Wednesday.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam has suggested that the UK may take the initiative of creating a COVID-19 fund which can be used to bail out the UK brands/retailers so that they can continue with their imports from Bangladesh.
On the other hand, Alam said, the fund can also be used to help the workers to sustain their families.
The State Minister discussed the issue during a telephone conversation with Lord Tariq Ahmad, UK Minister (State Minister) for South Asia and Commonwealth in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Monday.
Lord Ahmad agreed that action needs to be taken in this regard.
During the discussion, State Minister Alam raised the issue of confirmed orders of RMG exports from Bangladesh to the UK being cancelled by the UK brands and retailers.
He highlighted that orders amounting to close to 300 million dollars have been cancelled or postponed by UK buyers, putting the livelihoods of close to a million workers in Bangladesh in jeopardy.
During the meeting, the two Ministers discussed the current situation of the COVID19 pandemic, and the way forward.
The UK Minister appreciated the steps taken by the Government of Bangladesh led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in containing the spread of Coronavirus. Lord Ahmad and State Minister Shahriar Alam agreed to work together in WHO to find a solution of the global crisis of COVID19.
The Ministers also discussed how the Commonwealth can play an important role globally in the post COVID19 world.
The two Ministers also discussed the issue of the Rohingya crisis.
Lord Ahmad appreciated the humanitarian gesture by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in providing shelter to the 1.1 million Rohingyas who have been persecuted in their own country by their own state machinery.
The UK Minister highlighted that as the penholder on this issue in the UN Security Council, the UK has remained engaged on ensuring that the accountability for the atrocities committed against Rohingyas is established, and the perpetrators are brought into justice.
In this regard, he informed about the UN Security Council meeting held last week.
The UK also reiterated its commitment to the decision of the International Court of Justice regarding genocide and the crimes against humanity committed against the Rohingyas in Myanmar.
The two Ministers agreed to continue their fruitful dialogue in near future.