On March 23, 2021, 10-year-old Rezwan stands in the fire-damaged wreckage of the Balukhali area of the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

Relief Effort Underway After Fire Devastates Rohingya Refugee Camps

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A massive fire swept through four Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh on March 22, forcing tens of thousands out of their homes.


Walls of flame engulfed the crowded camps, igniting shelters made of bamboo and plastic tarpaulin. Those who had time grabbed their most precious possessions. Others were lucky to escape with their lives. 

UNICEF and partners are reuniting missing children with their families

During the first 24 hours, UNICEF’s immediate concern was to ensure the safety and protection of children who were missing or separated from their families. UNICEF and partners sheltered over 70 lost children overnight. By midday the day after the fire, nearly half of these had been successfully reunited with their families.


A look at the fire's deadly aftermath with UNICEF's Nazzina Mohsin in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh:


The blaze left 50,000 people — half of them children — homeless


UNICEF child protection partners and community volunteers are continuing search efforts to reunite missing children with their families. Early estimates indicate that 50,000 people — half of them children — are homeless as a result of the devastating fire, which razed nearly 10,000 shelters, along with learning centers, water and sanitation (WASH) facilities and health clinics. 


"The fire yesterday destroyed almost everything," says Nazzina Mohsin, UNICEF Cox's Bazar Communication Officer, in the video above. "Everything will have to start from scratch now."


Learning centers, WASH facilities and health clinics will have to be rebuilt


The sprawling Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar are one of the world's largest refugee settlements. In August 2017, over 700,000 ethnic Muslim Rohingya fled Myanmar en masse, following a military-led campaign of brutal violence, and took refuge in Cox's Bazar.


Now many of them have lost everything, for a second time.


“Our hearts go out to all the Rohingya children and families affected by this disaster," said Ezatullah Majeed, UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Cox’s Bazar. "We want to give our full commitment. UNICEF is ready to help. We will have a difficult journey ahead but we are working hard to respond and rebuild as quickly as possible.” 


Help UNICEF continue to support Rohingya refugee children and families.


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Top photo: On March 23, 2021,10-year-old Rezwan stands in the fire-damaged wreckage of the Balukhali area of the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. © UNICEF/UN0431936/Saeed