A rubella and polio vaccination campaign for 1.5 lakh children of Rohingya refugees started in Bangladesh on Saturday as the country witnesses an influx of people fleeing persecution in Myanmar. All the children, aged between six months and 15 years, will be vaccinated for rubella (measles), Cox’s Bazar Civil Surgeon Abdus Salam told the Daily Star newspaper. Children below five years will be administered polio vaccines while kids between six-month-old to five-year-old will be provided vitamin A capsules, the surgeon said. According to United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), over 200,000 of the estimated 400,000 Rohingyas who fled violence in Myanmar to Bangladesh since August 25 are children. They are facing challenges of food, nutrition, shelter, water and sanitation. Many of them are traumatised, malnourished and weak. Health personnel from Rohingya camp areas in Ukhia and Teknaf said rising number of people, mostly children, are visiting the health facilities with diarrhea, fever, cold and skin diseases. Led by the civil surgeon, doctors and nurses of the public hospital with support from the UN agencies, international and national NGOs are conducting the programme.
“We have already got all the supplies necessary from the government and non-government agencies, and mobilized additional health personnel from neighbouring upazilas to conduct the vaccination campaign,” said Salam. Meanwhile, the Bangladesh government has taken a set of decisions, including one to set up 14,000 additional shelters on some 2,000 acres of land near Kutupalong in Cox’s Bazar for Rohingyas. Six displaced Rohingya families would be accommodated in each shelter.
The Disaster Management and Relief Ministry will coordinate the matter with Armed Forces Division, Border Guard Bangladesh, Risk Reduction for Resilient Cities, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, International Organization for Migration, World Food Programme and other agencies to construct these shelter centres within 10 days, the report said. The current humanitarian crisis began following an August 25 attack by the insurgent Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on police and military posts in the northwestern state of Rakhine that had led to a violent offensive by the Myanmar Army. Myanmar’s military says it is fighting Rohingya militants and denies targeting civilians.