Devastating Fire Tears Through Rohingya Refugee Camp

A massive fire broke out Monday in the world's largest refugee camp, in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, where around 900,000 Rohingya people are living. According to initial estimates from the United Nations, 15 people have lost their lives in the blaze, 560 people have been injured, and some 45,000 people have been displaced.

MSF’s Balukhali clinic was completely destroyed by the flames. Fortunately, all patients and staff were evacuated from the clinic before the fire intensified. So far, MSF has treated 11 people who were wounded as a result of the fire in Kutupalong hospital and the hospital on the hill.

This is not the first fire in the camp over the last months, devastating the lives of many Rohingya refugees living there. Their shelters are built with temporary and flimsy materials, which means that in the densely populated camps in Cox’s Bazar, fire spreads rapidly. Situation in the camps are deteriorating with reduced access to healthcare, increased violence and insufficient basic living conditions.

The full impact of the fire on the community is yet to be seen as the fire continued to burn overnight. It is still not completely clear how many shelters, healthcare facilities and other humanitarian infrastructure has been destroyed. This is a major blow to the Rohingya community, who have been suffering the consequences of the deteriorating living conditions in the camps – with reduced access to healthcare and other humanitarian services. The Rohingya have been denied the ability to return to their homes in Myanmar safely and with dignity. The restrictions on their freedom of movement and with no access to livelihoods in Bangladesh, including the ability to work, mean that they are entirely dependent on humanitarian assistance.