World Vision has activated an emergency response plan to provide immediate support to the thousands of people who have lost their homes after a fire ripped through Cox’s Bazar – the world’s largest and most densely populated refugee camp.
Nearly one million people live in temporary shelters on the hillsides in Cox’s Bazar Rohingya Response Refugee Camp, Bangladesh, where a fire on Monday has reportedly claimed 15 lives, with a further 400 people still unaccounted for.
Atul Mrong, Operations Director, Rohingya Crisis Response, explained: “World Vision’s staff have been on the ground, providing emergency relief for refugees who have lost their homes and belongings in the fire. Since the start of the incident, we have distributed high-energy biscuits to 10,031 households (5kgs each) provided by WFP. Some of World Vision’s education centres and multi-purpose centres have been converted to emergency shelters. We are working closely with the government, UN-clusters, partners and peers on a coordinated response to help rebuild the lives of those affected by this fire”
The massive fire has damaged some food-distribution points and water and sanitation facilities at Cox’s Bazar. The damage to the temporary shelters has left thousands of Rohingya people without food or shelter. Child protection is a critical issue, as reports suggest that many children are missing or displaced. Some were unable to flee because of barbed-wire throughout the camps, and succumbed to the fire.
“I saw smoke coming rising from another side of the hill. People were shouting and panicking. I rescued my siblings and went to Thaingkhali camp to save ourselves,” says 11-year-old Baitullah, as he surveyed the charred remains of his home, having already lost his home once in Myanmar.
Response Director, Rohingya Crisis Response, World Vision Bangladesh, Fredrick Christopher said: “The Rohingya refugees are among the most vulnerable people in the world. They have been living with ongoing uncertainty, storms and the threat of disease outbreaks since fleeing their homes in 2017.
“This fire is the last thing that they need at a time when shelter is critical for protection from the impending monsoon season, and COVID-19 is threatening to circulate around the crowded camps at an alarming rate. An unforgiving incident like this just deepens the sense of hopelessness in the hearts of everyone here at Cox’s Bazar. World Vision will spare no effort in continuing to mobilise all our resources to help the Rohingya children and families during this extraordinarily challenging time.”