Cox’s Bazar/ Kuala Lumpur, 06 March 2023: A massive fire that broke out in the afternoon of 5th March has razed at least 2,000 houses, leaving nearly 12,000 people homeless in the Camp 11 of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, the world’s largest refugee camp.
Located in the Ukhiya sub-district where at least three water networks serving 16,000 people, five learning centers, and three health facilities were burnt to ashes, among other infrastructure, the fire rapidly spread to 15 sub-blocks of the camp. The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) responded immediately, supporting fire-fighting operations and evacuations. At least 200 volunteers from the camps trained by BDRCS, along with the Fire Service and Civil Defense team of Cox’s Bazar, finally doused the flames by late evening. BDRCS is delivering 1,000 tents for immediate relief and distributing food parcels, blankets and mosquito nets in coordination with the Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner of the Government of Bangladesh to the affected people.
Belal Hossain, Head of Operations for the Population Movement Operation of Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) in Cox’s Bazar said:
“Given the dry season and frequent winds, the fire spread rapidly. Thanks to our trained volunteers and preparedness plans –we responded immediately supporting evacuations, providing food, water, and emergency shelter. Such frequent fires bring needless suffering to the camp residents who are already displaced for more than five years now.”
Around one million people displaced from Rakhine State, Myanmar, live in the crowded camp settlement, supported by the Government of Bangladesh and humanitarian agencies, including BDRCS and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Hrusikesh Harichandan, Head of Sub-Delegation of the IFRC said:
‘‘This fire is a devastating blow to thousands of families who saw their hard work of the past five years turn to ashes. Several families have lost everything they own. We need greater coordination to establish better, more humane living conditions for them. We are giving emergency aid to support their resilience in the face of such disasters.”
The BDRCS, along with the IFRC, has trained nearly 3,300 volunteers across the 33 camps to act as first responders during emergencies. They have undergone firefighting drills and other disaster preparedness training while awareness-raising activities to prepare for disasters are regularly held for camp residents. IFRC and BDRCS are collaborating with other humanitarian agencies to determine the needs. In addition, community health volunteers have been activated, and contingency stocks have been mobilized to support those affected.
As part of the ongoing Population Movement Operations, the BDRCS, with the assistance of IFRC, other Red Cross and Red Crescent partners, and UNHCR, has supported nearly one million people in the camps and host communities with healthcare, access to safe water, improved sanitation and hygiene, safer shelter and livelihoods.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Barkat Ullah Maruf, +880 1711 222922,
Sabrina Idris, +880 1710-840327,
Mahmudul Hasan, +880 1716-103333,
Afrhill Rances, +60 19 271 3641