Devastating fire tears through Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh

Initial reports 15 people dead, thousands displaced, and an MSF clinic completely destroyed

Bangladesh 2021 © Pau Miranda/MSF

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 time fire has struck Kutupalong camp, devastating the lives of many Rohingya families. Their shelters are built with temporary and flimsy materials, which make it easy for fire to spread rapidly across this "mega camp" made up of 26 smaller camps. Conditions here are deteriorating, with people suffering from reduced access to health care, increased violence, and inadequate living conditions.

The full impact of the fire on the Rohingya community is yet to be seen, as the fire continued to burn overnight. It is still not clear how many shelters, health care facilities, and other humanitarian infrastructure have been destroyed. This is a devastating blow to the Rohingya community, who have already endured years of hardship in poor living conditions.

The Rohingya have been denied the ability to return to their homes in Myanmar safely and with dignity. In Bangladesh, they face restrictions on their freedom of movement and have no access to livelihoods, including the ability to work. These barriers mean that they must depend entirely on humanitarian assistance for survival.