Like many countries, the Bangladesh government has imposed a nationwide shutdown until April 11 in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19 and Concern is committed to fully observing these measures while still supporting the Rohingya community in any way possible.
Prior to the outbreak, Concern was supplying food rations to vulnerable families within the camp, as well as operating six fully integrated nutrition sites, which includes guidance and information to mothers and children around nutrition.
With restrictions imposed on movement up to 11 April, our team in Cox’s Bazar distributed a double ration of food to the Rohingya community ahead of the closure to ensure families had adequate provisions.
We have also prepositioned food stock in the camps that can be distributed by our volunteer network should the lockdown continue for a longer period.
Lucia Ennis, Concern’s Regional Director for Asia, explains that the key focus at present is to ensure the safety of staff and ensure that our operations do not contribute to the spread of the disease.
"The main focus is ‘do no harm’. We're totally committed to our humanitarian mandate but have also directed staff to honour the restrictions put in place by the government,” she said.
With only essential frontline staff providing essential services which includes health, nutrition and food distribution permitted in the camp, we have had to redesign our nutrition services.
To ensure that we do not bring groups together and minimise contact, we have suspended some of the training and communal services, and increased awareness campaigns on hygiene promotion and infection control.
Lucia is confident that there will no adverse impact in the short-term, as the centres were now focused on less acute nutrition support. However, as the situation evolves, we do foresee an increase in severe acute cases of malnutrition being presented and we will prioritise our services to support these cases.