Caritas International has been at the forefront of responding to a growing humanitarian challenge in Bangladesh after a destructive tropical storm hit the country late last month as it faces the double threat posed by the spread of COVID-19 in cramped living conditions.
Bangladesh was hit by Cyclone Amphan, a tropical storm in the Bay of Bengal which made landfall on 21 May, destroying homes and villages across the region.
Bangladesh is also home to the world’s biggest refugee camp Cox’s Bazaar, where 1.2 million largely Rohingyas from Myanmar are struggling with the combined impact of COVID-19 and Cyclone Amphan.
Caritas Australia’s Eleanor Trinchera, Program Coordinator for Bangladesh, Nepal & the Philippines said the aid agency is working hard to provide much needed support to the refugees in the camps and other Bangladeshi citizens.
“The Bangladesh Government is collaborating with the UNHCR to work with Caritas and other NGO’s in the region,” said Eleanor. “There is a national response and each NGO is given specific assignments within the camps.”
“We have had to allocate spaces for those who have COVID-19 and try to keep them separated from those who are not infected.”
Caritas has been working hard to control the spread of the virus through social distancing, lock downs, and quarantines as well as providing support for the vulnerable and marginalised in the region.
Caritas has provided 6800 units of hand sanitiser, face masks and hygiene kits to improve hand washing and sanitation. The agency is also providing emergency meals and counselling support.
The developing nation of Bangladesh which had been working towards becoming a middle-income nation by 2022, has faced economic hardship as its major garment industries and agricultural sector has faced shutdowns due to the pandemic.
Bangladesh’s quarantine shutdown period began on 26 March and is now working towards a slow reopening of the country and the economy. Around two thousand garment manufacturers have begun to reopen under controlled conditions with limited workers.
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