Aid in action

Rohingya and Bangladeshi volunteers on the frontline of the COVID-19 response

A cyclist pictured with a megaphone before his shift

The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the Rohingya refugee camp in mid-May. In response, a temporary reduction in the humanitarian footprint was introduced to minimize risk of virus transmission. Thousand of Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi volunteers served as critical first responders to the pandemic, carrying out life-saving activities under the 2020 JRP and COVID-19 Response Plan. Beyond supporting essential programmes, such as emergency preparedness, water and sanitation, and site development works, Rohingya and Bangladeshi volunteers served as community health workers and provided critical support to COVID-19 treatment facilities, which catered to both communities.

Humanitarian partners, including community-based organizations, provided training on life-saving COVID-19 prevention and response messages and actions, which thousands of volunteers then disseminated in Rohingya, Burmese and Bengali languages across all 34 camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf, and adjacent Bangladeshi communities. Volunteers on the front lines of the emergency response also connected women and girls to safe spaces and shared GBV prevention and referral messages to mitigate the risk of domestic violence and abuse. "Knowing that my work is reducing even a small bit of their suffering is the best reward that I can ask for," says a 22-year-old female Bangladeshi volunteer who supports the host and Rohingya communities.

The picture shows a Rohingya volunteer cyclist before his shift. He has a megaphone to deliver key COVID-19 and MHPSS messages to the community.

IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al