Irish Aid funding boosts Concern’s drive to help refugees left homeless by Bangladesh camp blaze

View from nearby homes of a fire in Cox's Bazaar in March 2021
View from nearby homes of a huge fire in Cox's Bazaar refugee camp in Bangladesh which left 50,000 people left homeless. Photo Credit: Concern Worldwide Bangladesh

Concern Worldwide has received €100,000 in emergency funding from Irish Aid to help address the needs of 50,000 people left homeless this week by a huge blaze in Cox’s Bazaar refugee camp in Bangladesh.

The blaze swept through sections of the camp on Monday, destroying 10,000 makeshift bamboo and tarpaulin homes on a site which is home to one million Rohingya refugees.   Fifteen people died and at least 400 are missing.

Concern’s team are on the ground are providing food, water and nutrition screening.  They will also support those impacted by the fire with hot food community kitchens, shelter assistance and psychosocial services.

“The Irish Aid funding, along with Concern’s own resources, will enable us to provide urgent assistance to 20,000 people,” Concern Worldwide Regional Director Lucia Ennis said.

“This is a tragedy that even the most resilient people will find hard to bear,” said Heather Macey, Concern's Emergency Response Director in Cox’s Bazaar.  

“The needs are vast; drinking water, food and shelter are the priority. Protection and safety concerns including reuniting families and supporting lost children. Toilets and water points are destroyed and need to be restored as soon as possible. Temporary shelter is needed now but with the monsoon season due in the next few weeks a more permanent solution is needed quickly.” 

Concern is working with its national partner SARPV to provide assistance in the coming days and weeks to the most vulnerable. 

Ms Macey said resilience and kindness have been shown by many in the Rohingya community, among them a nine-year-old girl who salvaged a water jar from her home and spent the entire day fetching water from an undamaged water pump, walking back to the fire affected area and offering the water to people as they passed by.   

“We were speaking to survivors and one elderly woman, Hasina came up behind me with the only possession she had left – her umbrella – and insisted on holding it over us for shade from the sun. She took us to meet her family; three elderly relatives, her daughter, a new born granddaughter, and three other grandchildren in the embers of what was once their home. They were all huddled under a blanket for shade from the sun.” 

This week’s fire was the third blaze to hit the camp in four days.

Ms Ennis praised the collaboration with the government of Bangladesh, the army, police and fire brigades. Their efforts to put out the flames and work with humanitarian actors to bring aid to affected refugees was greatly appreciated..

However, more must be done to ensure this week’s catastrophe is not repeated in the future, she said. “Given the number of fires there have been at the camps in recent months,  urgent action is needed to address refugee safety and emergency humanitarian access is required to prevent loss of life and mitigate exposure to extreme risk in the future,” Ms Ennis said.

For media queries contact Eilis Staunton, Media Relations officer at eilis.staunton@concern.net or 085 872 0720.  

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