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Fires in Rohingya Refugee Camps: Inclusive Rapid Needs Assessment

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On March 22nd at around 3PM a fire broke out in camp 8W and spread through camps 8E and 9 and touching camp 10. Refugees displaced by the fire moved to adjacent camps where they congregated in open spaces, moved to the Learning Centres (LCs) or stayed in the houses of other family members or friends1 . According to the ISCG fire incident initial rapid joint needs assessment report 48,267 people are reportedly displaced, 607 people require some form of medical assistance and 399 people are missing so far. There have been 11 casualties2 . 10,100 shelters have been destroyed along with WaSH facilities (including water points, toilets and bathing facilities) in the affected area. Two WFP nutrition centres and one food distribution point, 149 learning centres and six health facilities (including the IOM hospital, MSF Bulakhali clinic, Turkish Field Hospital) which provided care to 70,000 people have been destroyed3 .

Data from the recent Age and Disability Vulnerability assessment conducted by REACH indicate that the prevalence of disability across the Rohingya camps is twelve percent4 . Community data from the four affected camps is presented below:

CBM and the Centre for Disability in Development (CDD) conducted a rapid needs assessment (RNA) from March 23rd-29th, conducting interviews with existing beneficiaries in Camp 8W along with key informant interviews.
The purpose of the RNA was to assess both how well persons with disabilities were included in preparedness measures and identify unmet needs to inform inclusive response programming. This report is not designed to provide prevalence on disability, but to complement existing needs assessments with information on the needs and barriers faced by persons with disabilities. This report highlights the findings from the RNA and provides practical recommendations to promote inclusion of persons with disabilities in preparedness and response measures.

Executive Summary

Persons with disabilities have the right to be included in humanitarian preparedness measures and access humanitarian assistance, which is appropriate for their needs, however they are frequently left behind in situations of crisis as relief and recovery efforts are not inclusive. The rapid needs assessment indicates that while gains have been made to make preparedness methods more inclusive, such as the incorporation of inclusion into training of community volunteers on emergency preparedness, persons with disabilities are still at risk of being left behind in warning and evacuation measures. Inclusive preparedness systems are essential for saving lives in times of crisis.

Initial findings from the assessment highlight the needs for a multi-sectoral inclusive response, targeting those who are at the highest risk. Food security, shelter, non-food items (NFIs) and water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) remained a top priority among those interviewed. It is essential that both immediate relief efforts meet the specific requirements of persons with disabilities in terms of the type of aid provided and the methods of distribution and that longer term recovery efforts are inclusive. Barriers which prevent persons with disabilities and other at-risk groups from accessing humanitarian assistance must be analysed and removed. An opportunity to build back more inclusive exists, and it is imperative that humanitarian actors capitalize on this; persons with disabilities should be consulted in the process and reconstruction is done in an accessible manner.

The need for rehabilitation is essential for persons with new injuries including burns as well as to replace assistive devices which were lost in the fire is essential. Health services should follow the twin track approach – providing services which are accessible for all people and also meet the specific requirements of persons with disabilities. Access to rehabilitation as well as MHPSS services is essential for the health and well-being of persons with disabilities, and for allowing them to access humanitarian assistance.

Any response efforts must ensure that persons with disabilities are included not just as passive recipients of aid but also as active participants in decision making which affects their lives. Active engagement with persons with disabilities including disability committees in both preparedness planning and response is essential for this.