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Dhaka Tribune

UNHCR: Over 90 facilities damaged including hospitals in Rohingya camp fire

UNHCR remains on standby to provide additional support to IOM and other humanitarian partners in the ongoing emergency response

Update : 06 Mar 2023, 02:12 PM

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that over 90 facilities including hospitals and learning centres were damaged as a massive fire broke out at a Rohingya camp in Cox's Bazar's Ukhiya upazila Sunday afternoon.

The incident occurred at the Balukhali refugee camp no 11 and was brought under control by IOM, until the Rohingya refugee Safety Unit Volunteers trained on firefighting, local fire fighters and local authorities managed to contain the fire, around 5pm, according to a press release.

Site management

Safety Unit Volunteers from across the camps (including those not affected) were mobilized to help extinguish the fire, as well as creating fire breaks where possible, using equipment provided by UNHCR.

Sixteen tree-wheeler Mobile Fire Fighting Units provided by UNHCR, were deployed from across the camps and helped reach the difficult and congested areas.

Under the lead of the RRRC, humanitarian partners were onsite from soon after the onset of the fire to assess the damage and establish a coordinated response. The RRRC, additional RRRC, as well as the deputy commissioner rushed to the camp to provide support.

Courtesy

Besides, UNHCR evacuated the medical facilities in Camp 12 as a precaution.  

UNHCR and its partners are on standby to deploy personnel including engineers to support the Shelter/NFI sector in the affected camp.

Medical 

Three Medical Mobile teams were activated.

Ninety Community Health Workers in Camp 11 and adjacent Camp12 have been deployed to initiate fire response activities, which include providing first aid necessary prior to the referral to the health facility, disseminate do's and don'ts during and after a fire incident, provide psychological first aid, and linking the refugees with other relevant services as required. 

Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) focal points have been activated by the MHPSS working group to coordinate with volunteers providing psychological first aid to those affected and referring cases with more individual needs. 

Food security partners supported by WFP will provide emergency food. 

Protection 

UNHCR activated the tracking system to ensure identification and provision of necessary support to the fire affected population. This will help family members reunite if they were separated during the incident. 

The interagency PERU – Protection Emergency Response Unit has been activated. This is a multipurpose team trained and prepared to provide basic first aid and search and rescue.

UNHCR remains on standby to provide additional support to IOM and other humanitarian partners in the ongoing emergency response.

Accident or sabotage?

It is still uncertain how the fire started and people are saying different rumours about the reason behind the fires.

Officials claimed that the devastating fire originated from a kitchen gas cylinder at the camp.

However, according to unconfirmed sources, Sunday's fire incident could be an act of sabotage.

It is alleged that the place was surrounded by Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) members and government security forces in order to hunt down three key members of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) who were inside the camp. The Arsa members set the fires in order to create chaos and find a way to flee. 

A few people are also saying that a stranger appeared right where the fire started. 

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