Bangladesh: Greater efforts needed to keep people safe on Bhashan Char

Bangladesh Red Crescent volunteers at Bhasar Char Island conduct activities to help displaced people living there with day-to-day routines.

Bangladesh Red Crescent volunteers at Bhasar Char Island conduct activities to help displaced people living there with day-to-day routines.

Photo: Bangladesh Red Crescent Society

Kuala Lumpur/Dhaka/Geneva, 23 November 2021: Urgent action is being taken to keep people safe from cyclones and the COVID-19 pandemic on Bhashan Char Island.

COVID-19 vaccinations have been underway for people aged over 55 on the island, and more doses are due for the remaining adults.

Around 18,000 people displaced from Rakhine, Myanmar, have been relocated by authorities from camps in Cox’s Bazar to sturdier homes on Bhashan Char.

Bangladesh Red Crescent has been working directly with displaced people so that lifesaving measures are in place ahead of the next big cyclone, as big storms regularly threaten the area from September until December.

Feroz Salah Uddin, Secretary General of Bangladesh Red Crescent Society said:

“Every effort is being made on Bhashan Char Island to improve living conditions and support people to be well prepared to take early lifesaving action ahead of any super cyclones. Volunteer teams have been trained in early warning action drills, first aid, search and rescue, and managing cyclone shelters.

“Our teams have been helping with COVID-19 vaccinations for older people most at risk of the disease while helping everyone to stay safe and healthy with clean water, food relief packs, hygiene kits, and access to healthcare.”

The IFRC is appealing for 86 million Swiss Francs to provide critical immediate and longer-term humanitarian support for the nearly one million displaced people living in the camps in Cox’s Bazar and those on Bhashan Char Island, including safer shelter, healthcare, improved access to clean water and sanitation and protecting people from the growing risks of climate disasters.

In recent weeks, Bangladesh Red Crescent volunteers have helped vaccinate more than 1,000 people aged over 55, and more vaccinations are planned as soon as vaccines become available.

Alexander Matheou, Asia Pacific Director, international Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said:

“Everyone living on Bhashan Char Island needs to feel safe and every effort needs to be made to enable Bangladesh to have a fair share of COVID-19 vaccines. This is a critical part of enabling Bangladesh to manage the responsibility of hosting such a large number of displaced people.”

“The IFRC has revised its Emergency Appeal for the next three years, to help meet the growing humanitarian needs in Cox's Bazaar and Bhashan Char, including risks from climate disasters. There is a critical 75 million Swiss Francs funding gap.

After meeting the Bangladesh State Minister of Disaster Management and Relief, Alexander Matheou said: "Beyond immediate humanitarian assistance, it is clear that we must work together to support safety, livelihoods, recreation and overall well-being of people experiencing such a long and traumatic displacement.”

Alexander Matheou is visiting Bhashan Char with the leadership of Bangladesh Red Crescent today.

Read and download the revised Emergency Appeal here.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

In Dhaka:
Sajid Hasan, +880 1673 019617, sajid.hasan@ifrc.org

Mahmudul Hasan, +880 1716 103333, hasan.mahmudul@bdrcs.org

In Kuala Lumpur:

Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, antony.balmain@ifrc.org