Giving Compass' Take:
- Naimul Karim reports on how Rohingya artists are performing skits, painting murals, and singing about COVID-19 as refugees wait to receive vaccinations.
- How can art provide an outlet to disseminate information about COVID-19 mitigation measures and vaccination? How can it improve the mental health of the artists and those around them?
- Learn about what you can do about the genocide of the Rohingya in Myanmar.
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Busy with his brushes beneath a tarpaulin roof, Rohingya artist Ansar Ullah works on a mural depicting a giant vial of COVID-19 vaccine towering over the ramshackle homes of the world's largest refugee settlement in Bangladesh.
More than 700,000 Rohingya who fled Myanmar in 2017 live in Bangladesh's refugee camps, where a vaccination drive scheduled to start in March has been postponed indefinitely due to delays in supplies from the COVAX program, the United Nations said.
COVID-19 cases have remained relatively low despite a recent uptick, but the artists said many refugees have misconceptions about the coronavirus vaccines, which they aim to allay through their work.
"Firstly, we hope someone or some organization sees this painting and helps us get vaccines. Our camps are crowded and we need them the most," Ullah, 26, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
"There are also fears about the vaccine in our camps. Some are scared they might die or that their health might worsen because of the injection. We want to address these rumours, so that when the vaccine does come, everybody takes it," he added.
Painted ahead of Sunday's World Refugee Day by a dozen artists, the mural also depicts a refugee receiving the jab and a man using a megaphone to challenge vaccine hesitancy and encourage camp residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
"Fear and stigma around COVID-19 has proven to be a major barrier to people getting tested," Louise Donovan, a spokesperson for the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said by email.
"Hence major efforts are being undertaken to ensure that refugees have adequate information when the vaccination campaign will begin," she added.
Read the full article about Rohingya artists by Naimul Karim at Global Citizen.