Moscow:Valentina Shvartsman - Even though there are no confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease among Rohingya refugees in Bangladeshi camps, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) continues to monitor the situation and remains extremely concerned about a potential outbreak among the refugee population, Louise Donovan, UNHCR spokesperson in the city of Cox's Bazar, told Sputnik
Bangladesh, the most densely populated country in the world, also hosts the world's largest refugee camp near Cox's Bazar. To date, there are over 16,600 COVID-19 cases in Bangladesh.
"So far, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus amongst the Rohingya refugee population, however we are very concerned and we are monitoring the situation closely," Donovan said.
She noted that limited health services, along with the high population density of Rohingya refugee camps, make social distancing and other preventing measures particularly challenging.
"The Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar are the biggest refugee camps in the world, and extremely densely populated, with at least 40,000 people living per square kilometer. This makes social distancing extremely challenging, while existing health infrastructure is limited," the spokesperson said.
As of late April, about 860,000 refugees live in Cox's Bazar, most of whom are ethnic Rohingya Muslims forced to flee their homes in neighboring Myanmar amid an army offensive in August 2017. The Myanmar authorities launched an unprecedented violence campaign against the Rohingya after militants, allegedly from this minority group, carried out attacks on police posts in the country's north-western state of Rakhine.
A UN fact-finding mission to the country in 2018 said that there were grounds to charge Myanmar with crimes against humanity and genocide against the Rohingya people. In January, the International Court of Justice ruled that Myanmar must fully implement all measures to prevent the murder, torture or persecution of people based on racial, ethnic or religious grounds.