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IOM Bangladesh Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis Response - Monthly Situation Report (March 2021)

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IOM and Partners Respond to Massive Fire in Rohingya Refugee Camps

Roughly 48,300 Rohingya refugees and host community members in Cox’s Bazar were directly affected by the massive fire that swept Camps 9, 8W and 8E on 22 March 2021.

Over 1,600 facilities were damaged, including health centres, women friendly spaces, learning centres, food distribution points, markets and offices. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

While efforts were made to control the situation, the fire raged through the camps and only slowed down once it reached the main roads, slopes, canals and rice fields. With the fire now having destroyed Camp 9 in its entirety, in coordination with the community and government, the camp will be redesigned to ensure everyone’s safety.

From the onset, IOM redirected its efforts to assist those affected by the fire and mitigate its impact through the rapid deployment of staff and resources. Once the fire was extinguished, the team conducted a quick assessment of the area to map out the damage and needs.

IOM immediately deployed ambulances, Mobile Medical Teams and Mental Health and Psychosocial Support staff and set up an emergency health post. Protection teams were dispatched to address cases of Gender-based Violence, and ensured all women and girls had access to menstrual hygiene management kits. Water, masks and hygiene kits were distributed, and some of the damaged hygiene facilities were quickly rehabilitated.

As part of its fire prevention and mitigation measures, IOM and its partners, including the Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence, are strengthening the regular fire drills and training sessions on the management of burn victims offered to refugees and host community members.

Given the short timeframe between now and the monsoon and cyclone seasons starting in April, IOM is concerned that there will not be enough time and funding to rebuild the shelters and services to safely withstand these hazards.

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