A group of people stand on a riverbank. A cloud of dark smoke rises on the other side.

Fire blazes through a Rohingya camp, putting lives of thousands of refugees at risk in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, March 22, 2021. Credit: Rohim Ullah/ Save the Children

Fire Blazes through Rohingya Camp Putting Lives of Thousands of Refugees at Risk

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (March 22, 2021)—Save the Children is deeply concerned by a fire currently tearing through several densely populated Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, which are home to over 800,000 Rohingya people.

It is yet unknown how many people might have been caught in the blaze, which has been spreading fast, but we do know that over 80,000 people live in the affected sub-camps.

Tayeba Begum, a Save the Children volunteer who witnessed the fire, said:

“The fire spread so quickly that before we understood what happened, it caught our house. People were screaming and running here and there. Children were also running scattered, crying for their family. It is the most horrific incident I have witnessed recently.”

Onno Van Manen, Country Director of Save the Children in Bangladesh, said:

“This is the second big fire to tear through the camps this year, and it is the largest yet. It is another devastating blow to the Rohingya refugees who live here. Just a couple of days ago we lost one of our health facilities in another fire. The risks of fires in these extremely densely populated and confined areas are enormous. 

“We are worried about the impact this event will have on children: those who will have lost their homes, learning centers and child-friendly spaces in the blaze. We are also concerned with the mental health impacts of experiencing such a traumatic event. Save the Children is on the ground supporting refugees in distress, and we will be assessing what further aid is needed over the coming hours and days.”

In collaboration with the government and other actors, Save the Children is supporting the affected children and their families with temporary safe shelters and working to support children separated from their parents. Save the Children has ongoing programs in health, nutrition, food assistance, child protection, mental health support and education. The organization is supporting both the refugees as well as the host communities.

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