Statement by H.E. Ambassador Rabab Fatima, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh at the High-Level Panel on “Addressing the increasing complexity of health challenges in humanitarian context”, New York, 09 June 2020

I thank you, Mr. Moderator/Mr. Lowcock.

Health emergencies can exacerbate any humanitarian crisis. Therefore, it is integral to have contingency plans to tackle health emergencies in humanitarian crisis situations.

Bangladesh recognizes the complexity of health challenges in humanitarian situations. We are hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas from Myanmar. Despite our resource limitations, we gave shelter to the Rohingya population from our humanitarian and human rights commitments.

In the outbreak of Covid-19, we included the Rohingya population in our national COVID response and recovery plans. In an effort to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the Rohingya camps, all necessary measures were taken to put in place hygiene and social distance measures, while ensuring that humanitarian operations such as food, nutrition, water and sanitation programmes, continued unhindered. Temporary isolation centers have been set up for potential COVID-19 cases in the camps. These measures have kept Covid spread among the Rohingya population to a minimum; not anywhere close to the infection rate in the host community.

Based on our experience, let me share a few thoughts on addressing the existing gaps in humanitarian assistance coordination:

First, emergency humanitarian responses such as pandemics and health emergencies must be underpinned by additional humanitarian assistance, without curtailing the funds for regular humanitarian needs. And the principle of burden- and responsibility- sharing should be central to the actions of the international community in addressing humanitarian situations.

Secondly, in grave humanitarian crisis facing health challenges, such as the pandemic that we face now, all people including refugees and migrants and their host communities must have unhindered and free access to vaccines and treatments, without any additional burden to their host countries. I draw your attention in this regard to the SG’s recent policy brief on the impact of Covid to people on the move.

Thirdly, people in humanitarian emergencies often undergo psychological trauma. All humanitarian programmes for preparedness, response and recovery, therefore, need to be inclusive of mental health and psychosocial support for all affected people. The gender dimension and particular challenges faced by women, in such situations, calls for special attention.

Finally, climate change has already put millions of people vulnerable to vector-borne diseases. Vulnerability of climate displaced people is redoubled with health and livelihood risks in the pandemic context. It is high time to look into climate change through the humanitarian lens.

I thank you.