As a Rohingya refugee living in Bangladesh’s camps, I am making an urgent request to policymakers and humanitarians: we Rohingya refugees are in desperate need of phone and internet access.
While people across the globe deal with the coronavirus pandemic in their own communities, there are nearly one million Rohingya, like me, who are struggling to prepare ourselves with even the most basic information about the virus.
We have been denied internet and phone access for the past six months. What we mostly hear about the coronavirus are false rumours, passed from person to person across the camps: 100,000 people infected in one country; tens of thousands dead in another.
This alone is creating a panicked and unstable situation in the camps. We are terrified of being abandoned at this time of extreme need and risk.
A few youths like me find ways to access the internet. We have been doing our best to learn about the virus so that we can raise awareness in our community.
Now I know why the illness is called COVID-19. I know what the symptoms are.
I’ve learned that the best way to stay safe is to wash your hands and to avoid crowded places. But without the internet and mobile phones, it’s virtually impossible to spread the message at a large scale.
I’ve made two videos about the coronavirus in our Rohingya language. Non-governmental organisations in the camps are also trying to spread the word on the importance of hand-washing, or staying at home. How do you reach everyone across the massive refugee camps, when most Rohingya can’t use their phones to share these messages and communicate?