Officials claim to contain an outbreak that infected 1,500 refugees, almost 10% of those displaced in Bhashan Char.
Bangladesh officials say they contained an outbreak of diarrhea that killed four Rohingya refugees and infected 1,500 more people, alarming rights groups and the United Nations over the island’s camp conditions.
Bangladesh has moved 18,000 refugees to the lower Bhashan Char island from the settlements of the mainland.
But many of the displaced say they were coerced and that the health and other facilities on Lime Island, in an area often affected by deadly cyclones, are poor.
Rohingya officials and sources said the diarrhea broke out earlier this month after the first heavy monsoon rains.
At least four people have been killed in the past two weeks, two island officials, including a 20-year-old woman and three children, told AFP news agency.
Rahat Tanvir Anwar, a doctor at the island’s only 20-bed clinic, said at least 1,550 people (almost 10% of the people on the island) had been infected and about 600 needed hospital treatment.
“The situation has improved. We have added 10 more beds to the hospital to treat patients. On Thursday, there were only 14 patients with diarrhea in the hospital, “he told AFP.
A regional health chief said the outbreak was contained after authorities quickly distributed 33,000 water purification pills and 35,000 doses of oral rehydration solution.
“We have also given them a quick health education so that they do not drink water other than that extracted from deep pipe wells,” said Masum Iftekhar, the local district health chief.
An island rohingya, who declined to be named, said doctors only gave saline to his three-year-old son and told him to take the boy home.
“(The doctor) told me to buy the medicine at a pharmacy. But it takes money to buy medicine. Where can I get money? Later, I went to a pharmacy. But there is no medicine there. My baby is still sick, “he told AFP.
Saad Hammadi, of Amnesty International, blamed the “rapid relocation of thousands of Rohingya refugees to the island without letting rights and humanitarian groups conduct an independent assessment of conditions on the island.”
The UN earlier this month said that while the island “has some potential,” people there needed “access to meaningful livelihood opportunities, skills development, education, health and access to money.” to make their daily lives easier “.
Bangladesh has rejected allegations that the Rohingya have been forcibly relocated and says conditions on the island are much better than on the mainland, where 850,000 refugees are crammed into the camps.
Authorities plan to relocate 100,000 to Bhashan Char.
Most Rohingya living in Bangladesh fled a brutal military offensive in neighboring Myanmar in 2017 that UN investigators concluded was executed with “genocidal intent.”