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COX’S BAZAR β€” As the COVID-19 spreads all over the world killing thousands and infecting tens of thousands, Rohingya activists are concerned about the refugees in Bangladesh, IDPs in Myanmar camps and open-air prisoners in the ground of Arakan and urge both Bangladesh and Myanmar to unblock the internet access.

European Rohingya Council (ERC) in a statement released on March 12, 2020, said “Rohingya has been denied internet access in Bangladesh refugee camps and inside Myanmar for several months. Rohingya community is unable to get up to date information about coronavirus infection and its preventive measures.”

It added, “Therefore, The European Rohingya Council urges the government of Bangladesh and Myanmar to lift the restriction on internet access so that (the) Rohingya community is able to get up to date information on coronavirus and its preventive measures to stop coronavirus infection among Rohingya community.”

Not only internet 3G, 4G services, but also direct phone calls and even mobile uses are restricted. It is impossible for the refugees to get up-to-date information on the situation, preventive measures, guidelines on a healthy lifestyle and to contact in emergency cases.

Mojib Ullah, an activist from Australia writes, “The WHO just declared Coronavirus a pandemic. We appeal to BD gov to consider lifting network blackout in refugee camps allowing over a million refugees access to information as part of awareness.”

WHO declared the outbreak of the new virus a pandemic. The virus is rapidly spreading all over the world with a dramatic increase in deaths and infections. Fears and concerns over coronavirus are also growing and refugees are seen as more vulnerable than others.

Bangladesh has confirmed several cases recently. In such an emergency situation, people specially in the camps and rural areas rely on the internet, radio, television and other media, so as to get up-to-date information and accordingly to take necessary precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones safe and healthy.

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