EMERGENCY UPDATE: Devastating fire displaces tens of thousands at one of the world’s largest refugee camps
A large fire swept through Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh on 22 March, destroying homes and learning centres, and displacing 45,000 people. More than half are children.
Initial reports are that children are among the injured, and that there are also children who have been separated from their families.
UNICEF is on the ground delivering first aid support, emergency supplies and clean drinking water, as well as evacuating families and assisting separated children.
Cox’s Bazar hosts more than 866,000 Rohingya refugees – the majority are women and children. The fire, coupled with the ongoing threat of COVID-19, is yet another devastating blow for families and children.
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About Rohingya community
Close to 1 million Rohingya children and their families have fled from violence in Myanmar only to face a whole new crisis in Bangladesh.
The vulnerable status of these children is heightened by extreme weather conditions with the approaching cyclone and monsoon season and now the looming threat of disease, as coronavirus cases increase throughout the world. UNICEF is on the ground ensuring children and their families have access to safe water and sanitation, and important prevention & risk information to prepare for this public health emergency.
The Rohingya community are a stateless Muslim minority who have faced discrimination, exclusion and poverty in Myanmar for decades.
Mass killings and sexual violence have sparked a refugee crisis for hundreds of thousands of Rohingya children who have been forced to make the gruelling journey to Bangladesh. These children endured chronic conditons before they fled Myanmar, facing a dire existence in Bangladesh. They’re sick, hungry and struggling every day in the over crowded refugee camps.
Monsoons threaten to flood low-lying areas of the camps and wash raw sewage into family homes and water supplies. These are nightmare conditions for an outbreak of disease like coronavirus, which can spread through a crowded community with deadly speed.
Refugee children are facing the double emergency of displacement and a global pandemic. We won’t let them face it alone.