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CrisisInSight Weekly Picks, 20 January 2021

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A fire broke out in Nayapara Registered Refugee Camp in Cox’s Bazar on 14 January. The exact cause of the fire is unknown. The camp hosts about 22,500 Rohingya refugees. 3,492 people were affected and 550 shelters, a community centre, and around 150 shops were destroyed. The fire was brought under control in a few hours by the local fire department, volunteers, and refugees, resulting in no deaths or serious injuries. The shelters, made partly of flammable materials, and the inability to distance these, aggravated the scale of the fire. Immediate needs include tarpaulin, food, liquified petroleum gas for cooking/heating, winter clothes, and non-food items. 90% of refugee households affected by the fire may have lost their identity documents.

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From 15-17 January, a caravan of up to 9,000 migrants and asylum seekers from Honduras entered Guatemala, mainly through the El Florido border point (eastern Zacapa department). Violent confrontations between Guatemalan security forces and migrants occurred in the department as authorities attempted to contain and break up the caravan. Hundreds of migrants have managed to reach the northwestern border town of Tecún Amán, hoping to cross into Mexico, with many intending to continue their journey towards the United States. Humanitarian actors are monitoring developments and preparing to attend to migrants’ protection, food, and shelter needs. The needs of unaccompanied or separated children are of particular concern. This is the second caravan to leave Honduras following Hurricanes Eta and Iota in November. COVID-19 restrictions and crop, asset and livelihood losses caused by the hurricanes have worsened the socioeconomic situation in Central America. Many migrants also cite protection issues linked to gang violence as a reason for leaving.

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The designation of Ansar Allah as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and Special Designated Global Terrorist by the US Government came into effect on 19 January. The designation is likely to have a negative impact on the levels of import leading to deteriorating access to food due to possible food shortages and price hikes. This decision constitutes a serious logistical access constraint for humanitarian operations in Houthi-controlled areas. Despite the licenses issued by the US Department of Treasury which allow for further activities of certain international organisations, the process of complying with new regulations is going to be time consuming and will likely impact on the implementation of humanitarian activities. No exemption has been introduced for the import of fuel, which is likely to lead to a new and more severe fuel crisis, with a high impact on transportation, water distribution, and power-generators on which many public and health services rely.

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