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Gender Alert on Fire in Kutupalong and Balikhali Camps, March 29, 2021, Issue 1: Ensuring a Gender-Responsive Humanitarian Response

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The Cox’s Bazar Gender in Humanitarian Action Working Group (GiHA WG) is deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of the Rohingya refugees affected by the massive fire outbreak on the afternoon of March 22, 2021.
The fire outbreak affected Camps 8W, 9, 10 and 8E located in Balukhali and Kutupalong areas that accommodate Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. This Gender Alert has been developed by GiHA WG as an aide-memoire of the gender-specific impacts of the fire.

It focuses on the promotion of a Gender-Responsive Humanitarian Response that places the needs and dignity of women, girls, men, and boys at the centre. It concludes with a set of recommendations for all stakeholders involved in the fire response.

This Gender Alert serves to advance the gender equality commitments and gender-responsive measures by providing a basis for an informed analysis on the genderspecific impacts of the fire. By assessing, coordinating, and responding to the trends identified and discussed throughout, the document serves as a guide for stakeholders to integrate gender equality commitments across the fire response and to address the specific needs of vulnerable Rohingya refugees living in the affected areas while maintaining COVID-19 prevention measures.


On the afternoon of March 22, 2021, a massive fire broke out in the Rohingya refugee camps in Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar. The fire quickly spread across three camps consuming shelters and personal belongings of refugees as well as essential facilities such as hospitals, primary health facilities, learning centers, and women friendly spaces in the camps. More than 48,000 individuals have been affected by the fire. Many are staying with relatives or in learning and transit centers which are accommodating the most vulnerable people.

The Government of Bangladesh and aid agencies are responding to those affected. The distribution of water, hot meals and high energy biscuits is ongoing. Emergency shelter and non-food relief item kits including floor mats, blankets, solar lamps, have been provided to those affected. The priority is to reunite families and children who were separated during the fire and the subsequent movements to safe places, as well as to identify and support persons with specific needs, such as older persons, pregnant women and persons with disabilities.

This fire outbreak has highlighted the capacity of women and men volunteers as first responders. They are helping people to safety, supporting fire response efforts and continue to work to support aid efforts on the ground.
Conflict and humanitarian crises affect women, girls, men, and boys differently. This fire outbreak is no exception. Systematic efforts to collect sex, age and disability disaggregated data (SADDD) and to consult with the affected population must be put in place to ensure that the diverse needs of all groups are fully understood and targeted effectively in the response.