Fri, 03 Dec 2021

DHAKA, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- Urgent action is being taken to keep people safe from cyclones and the COVID-19 pandemic on Bhashan Char Island in Bangladesh, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said Tuesday.

According to the IFRC, 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.

It said 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.

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

"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 said it is appealing for 86 million Swiss Francs (92.3 million U.S. dollars) to provide critical immediate and longer-term humanitarian support for the nearly 1 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.

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

"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," said Alexander Matheou, Asia Pacific director of the IFRC.

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