The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has welcomed the start of the vaccination drive for Rohingyas refugees living in camps in Cox's Bazar area of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh government on Tuesday started vaccinating Rohingyas refugees living in camps in Cox's Bazar area as a part of the country's mass vaccination process.
More than 4,000 Rohingyas living in Cox's Bazar refugee camps in Bangladesh have received their first COVID-19 vaccine shot on the first day of the drive, the agency said on Wednesday.
"The first step in fully protecting communities...is through the rollout of vaccination[s]", said Johannes Van Der Klaauw, UNHCR's Representative in Bangladesh.
UNHCR stressed that when allocating the vaccines, the equitable inclusion of Rohingya refugees is critical to curbing the spread of the deadly disease.
The drive is being led by the Bangladesh authorities with technical support from UNHCR, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other humanitarian partners.
"We are grateful to the Government of Bangladesh for having included Rohingya refugees in the vaccination campaign", said Van Der Klaauw.
There has been a recent uptick in infections in the camps, with around 20,000 cases and 200 deaths recorded among refugees since the pandemic erupted last year, Dhaka Tribune reported.
The complex Rohingya refugee crisis erupted in August 2017, following attacks on remote police outposts in western Myanmar by armed groups alleged to be from within the community.
These were followed by systematic counterattacks against the minority, mainly Muslim Rohingya, which human rights groups, including senior UN officials, have said amounted to ethnic cleansing.
Since August 25, 2017, more than 7,00,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have fled to Bangladesh. This Rohingya refugee crisis is among the largest, fastest movements of people in recent history.
Flooding into Cox's Bazar district in Bangladesh, the refugees joined more than 2,00,000 Rohingya who fled years before, a report from world vision informed.
Today, about 880,000 stateless Rohingya refugees live in the world's largest and most densely populated refugee camp, Kutupalong. About half of the refugees are children, the report added.
On March 22, 2021, their plight intensified after a massive fire swept through Cox's Bazar, destroying more than 10,000 shelters, food distribution sites, and clean water and sanitation facilities.