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Cox’s Bazar Update | January—March 2021

News and Press Release
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Fire Breaks Out in Rohingya Camp

UN Women in Humanitarian Response

A massive fire broke out in the world’s largest refugee camps (8E, 8W and 9) in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on 22 March. The fire affected and displaced both Rohingya refugees and host community residents.

According to the Fire Incident Rapid Joint Needs Assessment report, March 2021, by the Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG), almost all Multipurpose Women Centres (MPWCs) were destroyed in Camp 9, while the shelters, latrines, health care centres and water points were heavily affected.
Women, adolescent girls and children are at a high-security risk due to the unavailability of shelter, sanitary latrines, tube-wells, light and abaya (hijab). At nighttime, women cannot go outside because of insufficient lighting in the camps. Parents are anxious about the security of their adolescent girls. Unsafe living areas, sexual harassment and violence are reported as the main concerns for women’s safety. Women and adolescent girls who are having their menstrual period face difficulties since they have no sanitary napkins or hygienic cloths.

In response to the devastating fire outbreak, UN Women is working jointly with other humanitarian actors. They are supporting distribution of food and non-food items (NFI), prioritizing women, adolescent girls, children and older persons in receiving distribution.

“People lost their home, children, family members and all belongings. Especially pregnant women are the most vulnerable. We are working with the first responders in the camps to support the survivors.” – Yasminnara, UN Women Community Outreach Rohingya volunteer.

Yasminnara is one of the 44 UN Women refugee volunteers who are supporting the fire-affected residents. Volunteers are assisting injured persons in receiving medical assistance, working with Protection and gender-based violence (GBV) actors on rescuing older people, children, women and men, while regularly reporting on protection issues. Also, they are working on regular information dissemination on available services, especially to affected women.

UN Women also conducted a quick needs assessment to identify the immediate needs of women, pregnant women, lactating mothers, adolescent girls and boys, disabled residents, widowed women and older adults in Camp 9.
As a part of the response, UN Women has distributed 1,898 dignity kits (Abaya, sandals, sanitary napkin, toothbrush, toothpaste, mosquito net, comb) for the fire affected Rohingya women and girls.