MARCH 2021 FIRES IN THE ROHINGYA REFUGEE CAMPS
On 22 March 2021, a devastating fire broke out in three Rohingya refugee camps (8W, 8E and 9) in Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar, killing 11 refugees and leaving some 10,100 households without shelter. Following the emergency response to respond to the immediate needs of the refugee and host community families affected by the fire, the reconstruction of the camps is ongoing by the humanitarian community, in consultation with the Government of Bangladesh.
The Shelter/Non-Food Items (NFI) Sector has completed the construction of 3,729 shelters in the three fireaffected camps and work continues on 1,352 other shelters. The reconstruction of the shelters is based on a standard design approved by the Office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) in end April 2021. This is the second phase of shelter assistance to the affected refugees, following the distribution of emergency shelter kits shortly after the incident. In addition, 13,200 packages of clothing and bedding items, and 16,373 kitchen sets have been distributed to refugees across the three fire-affected camps.
114 host community families whose homes were damaged during the fire are being provided shelter support by the Shelter/NFI Sector in the form of cash assistance in two tranches. The distribution of the first tranche is complete, and 101 households have received the second tranche so far.
Following the urgent distribution of cooked meals, fortified biscuits, and dry food snacks to Rohingya refugee families immediately after the fire, hot food kitchens were set up by the Food Security Sector in the fire affected camps to provide fresher cooked meals. The refugee families are now reintegrated to the regular e-voucher food assistance programme. Combined with the distribution of kitchen sets, this means that refugees are now able to cook their own meals.
In addition to distributing hygiene kits, jerry cans and over a million aqua tabs shortly after the fire, agencies have repaired 1,100 emergency latrines and 500 bathing spaces in the affected camps. 400 emergency latrines and 200 additional spaces have also been installed by the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
Sector. In addition, alternative faecal sludge treatment locations were identified to support the increased need for latrine desludging. The sustainable reconstruction of water, sanitation and hygiene services is part of the overall plan by the humanitarian community to reconstruct the camps.
During the reporting period, the Health Sector and 10 mobile medical teams who were key in responding to those injured and affected by the fires, carried out an after-action review of the health response. The aim was to document best practices, lessons learnt and improvements which could be made, including the integration of protection, mental health, and psychosocial support in the response.
A Joint Environment Assessment in the Fire-Affected camps was carried out to quantify the impact of the fire on the ecosystem and provide evidence-based recommendations to inform site development and disaster preparedness plans to reduce the disaster risk and rehabilitate the environment. Under a reforestation plan, aid agencies are will replant 13,600m2 of land in the fire-affected camps in the months ahead.
Protection Sector agencies are working to normalize the delivery of protection services in the fire-affected camps by gradually rebuilding the protection facilities and safe spaces for children, adolescents\ women and girls. Agencies also continue outreach among the community, ensuring refugees' meaningful access to humanitarian services, supporting community-based protection networks and mechanisms for better identification and assistance of persons with specific needs. Specialized gender-based violence services, mainly face-to-face and remote case management, psychosocial support, and referrals continue in the fireaffected camps.
Psychosocial support and psychological first aid for children and caregivers continues in the fire-affected camps through telephone hotlines and home visits by volunteers and case workers to manage stress and promote positive coping mechanisms. Further, while family tracing and reunification was primarily conducted in March-May, some remaining separated children were reunified during the reporting period. Child Protection Help Desks set immediately after the fire as part of the emergency response, are now being phased out