“A massive fire burned in the camp. At that moment, everything that had been built and arranged for four years was destroyed by fire within half of a day,” said Samuda Begum, a refugee living in a camp on the Bangladesh/Myanmar border.
Samuda has been living in the refugee camp for nearly four years with her husband, father-in-law, and three children after they were forced to flee their home in Myanmar in August of 2017. As members of the minority Rohingya group, they were subjected to a brutal ongoing campaign of extreme violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar. The international community has labeled the Rohingya as “the most persecuted minority in the world”. The refugee camps across the border in Bangladesh now number almost one million people.
In March 2021,a large fire swept through one of the camps before spreading to two other camps, consuming 500 acres, and destroying 10,000 encampments. At least 45,000 people were left homeless, with nearly 600 injured and 15 killed.
Before the fire started, Samuda was at home playing with her three young children. Her husband and father-in-law were out of the house. When she saw the fire, she ran from her house with her three children. In the mass chaos of thousands of refugees running for their lives, Samuda lost track of two of her children and was left clutching her four-month-old baby boy. For the next day and a half, Samuda frantically searched for her children. Finally, she was reunited with them and with her husband and father-in-law.
After the fire, there were no food supplies, the wells that provided drinking water were destroyed, and families were left sleeping under trees and tarps. Many were now experiencing renewed trauma after losing their homes once again. Samuda and her family lost their home in the fire and went for two days without food.
Thanks to your kindness and generosity, we provided $50,000 to our onsite partner, Concern Worldwide, for the acquisition of food, water, shelter items, and other relief supplies for families impacted by the disaster.
Samuda said, “We received all of the service we needed. Without these our family would have fallen into more danger.”