Rotarians learn about large refugee camp at high risk for COVID-19

Independent Newsmedia
Posted 6/22/20

The Rotary Club of Scottsdale recently had Jack Fresquez, a Yale College Class of 2021, as keynote speaker during the club’s weekly Zoom meeting.

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Rotarians learn about large refugee camp at high risk for COVID-19

A health worker wears PPE in the Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh in April 2020, where on May 14, Bangladesh reported the area’s first confirmed coronavirus infections.
A health worker wears PPE in the Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh in April 2020, where on May 14, Bangladesh reported the area’s first confirmed coronavirus infections.
Submitted photo
Posted

The Rotary Club of Scottsdale recently had Jack Fresquez, a Yale College Class of 2021, as keynote speaker during the club’s weekly Zoom meeting.

At Yale, he is former vice president International Projects of the Yale University Rotaract Club, according to a press release, adding that he is a Yale President’s Public Service Fellow and a member of the Yale Prison Education Initiative.

The Phoenix native helped start the Interact Rotary Chapter at Trivium Preparatory Academy in Goodyear. His bachelor’s degree is in ethnicity, race and migration, the release said.

He talked about the emergency medical relief effort in support of Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, which is the largest refugee camp in the world as the UN has declared Rohingya people one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, noted the release.

Several years ago, when extreme violence erupted in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, hundreds of thousands of civilians fled their homes to the refugee camp, the release said, detailing how the population is especially vulnerable to coronavirus outbreaks.

Rotarians listened to an overview of the medical relief project aimed at combatting the spread of the novel coronavirus in the world’s largest refugee settlement.

Rotarians  learned the following:

  • Historical Background – The Rohingya people are an ethnic minority living in the Rakhine State of Myanmar. The persecution of the Rohingya dates to 1948 when Myanmar declared an ethnic cleansing. The Lowenstein Clinic at Yale Law School found strong evidence of genocide in 2015.
  • Geopolitical Context – Approximately one million Rohingya refugees have fled and sought safety from an ethnic genocide in the Rakhine State of Myanmar and took shelter in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The Rohingya is one of the largest stateless populations in the world. Of these refugees over 400,000 are children. Despite ongoing efforts to relocate people to safer places, Cox’s Bazaar remains extremely overcrowded.
  • Public Need (COVID-19 Aid) – There are only an estimated 2,000 ventilators in the entire country of Bangladesh with a population of 160 million people. There isn’t a single intensive care bed in the Rohingya Refugee camp, home to nearly a million people itself. The World Health Organization warned that refugees are particularity at risk. If the coronavirus spreads in what is now the world’s largest refugee camp, a humanitarian catastrophe would be imminent. Speed is of essence to prevent the exponential spread of COVID-19 in the especially vulnerable Rohingya refugee population.
  • Global Grant Funding Proposals- Plans are underway through a Rotary International Global Grant to procure $40,000+/- in medical supplies, such as - air purifiers/ventilators, testing kits, personal protective equipment, such as PPE coveralls, safety goggles, disposable masks and N95/R95 respirator masks. Project partners in Bangladesh will handle procuring and getting the supplies to the refugee camp.
  • Fundraising – There are several in-progress global partnerships in place, as well as, social media fundraising strategies. Key supporting partners are: Bangladesh’s Dhaka Mavericks Rotary Club, Rotary Club of New Haven CT, Rheingau Rotaract Club in Eltville am Rhein Germany, Boston University’s Sargent Rotaract Rotary Club, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Rotary International Foundation, other supporting organizations, as well as, Rotary Club of Scottsdale.

Nearly 50 Rotary Club of Scottsdale members participated in the Zoom meeting, according to the release.

During the call for help, The Scottsdale Rotarians were said to be “highly-moved by the refugee camp’s urgent needs,” collecting individual gifts totaling $1,000, and likely the Rotary Club of Scottsdale’s Board will approve an additional $1,000 from the Club’s Foundation Fund.

More information about the project and how to contribute: yalerotaract.com/relief4rohingya.

For more information about Rotary Club of Scottsdale, see scottsdalerotary.org.

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