Press Release: Devastating Fire Hits Rohingya Refugee Camps, Causes Medical Emergency

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For Immediate Release
March 23, 2021

Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh – Yesterday, a devastating fire tore through the overcrowded Balukhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The fire destroyed thousands of tents and huts, killed several people, and led to countless refugees without homes or shelter. 

Labib Tazone, MedGlobal’s Bangladesh Program Manager based in Cox’s Bazar, said: “I have never seen such a fire. The camp is decimated, and even now that the fire subsided, people are still getting burns from the coals and the melted plastic around the camp. These people have been displaced two times. For many, there is nothing left.”

MedGlobal has been providing health care to Rohingya refugees in the Cox’s Bazar camps, where around 900,000 Rohingya refugees currently live, since 2017 along with our local partners. Fortunately, all MedGlobal staff are safe and the clinic MedGlobal supports alongside Prantic and OBAT Helpers was not affected by the fire. The MedGlobal team is heartbroken for the refugees who have been through this devastating fire, after having already faced violence, displacement, and years in the most densely populated refugee camps in the world. 

Lucine Saleh, MedGlobal Executive Director, said: “Rohingya refugees, who have been displaced by unthinkable ethnic cleansing and forced displacement, are now left without homes again after this devastating camp fire. We are worried about their health and safety, and our medical team is working quickly to respond to the greatest needs of those in the camps. This is an emergency.” 

The MedGlobal health team in Bangladesh is providing emergency medical services to those affected by the fire, and treated 67 wounded people in the first 24 hours after the fire subsided. Medical assistance is particularly important, as several health facilities at Balukhali were completely destroyed by the fire.

MedGlobal is leading an emergency fundraiser to support this urgent health response in the Balukhali refugee camp.

For media inquiries, contact MedGlobal’s Director of Policy & Communications Kat Fallon at fallon@medglobal.org.

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