*Photo: A Rohingya refugee boy sits on a stack of burned material after a massive fire broke out in a Rohingya refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, March 24, 2021. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain
The Rohingya, an ethnic group of one million from Myanmar, are considered the world's most persecuted minority. Nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees now reside in Bangladesh after fleeing sustained violence and ethnic cleansing by the Myanmar government. These refugees now live in makeshift camps along the border. These refugees now live in makeshift camps along the border and the camps continue to grow every month. They are completely dependent on humanitarian aid for their survival.
“I’ve been in some difficult places,” says Martin Worth, UNICEF’s Head of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for the refugee camps in Bangladesh. “But this could get so much worse. What is already a dire humanitarian situation could become a catastrophe.”
On Monday, March 22, 2021, a large fire swept through the Balukhali camp before spreading to two other camps, consuming 500 acres and destroying 10,000 encampments. At least 48,000 people have been left homeless, with nearly 600 injured and 15 killed.
These vulnerable refugees need your help immediately to provide food, water, and shelter.
International Relief Teams previously provided emergency aid in the refugee camps in 2018. In partnership with Concern Worldwide, we distributed nearly 4,000 solar lights to the same number of households in two different refugee camps, benefiting more than 20,000 people. Female-headed households and households with four or more children were given priority. Because there is no electricity in the camps, the solar lights greatly improved the lives of refugees after dark. The lights helped reduce the risk of violence for women and children, allowing them to move freely at night. The lights also allowed children to read and study after dark.
*Photo Credit: AFP
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“You can’t imagine the damage. You see it on TV, but until you see it in person, you don’t understand it,” said Gene Woolsey, a volunteer onsite distributing supplies to victims.
“It’s heartbreaking to see what happened,” said IRT volunteer Ken Marsh about the devastated town of Paradise, CA. The entire town of Paradise in northern California was destroyed by the Camp Fire in 2018. These wildfires were the deadliest and most destructive in the state’s history. About 30,000 families lost their homes and their livelihoods.
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“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.
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“The military attacked my village. They set fire to the brush and shot five people, including my husband Mohammad Shafi,” said Marzaan. “When I arrived in Bangladesh, my only belongings were my nine children. We had nothing.”
“The home was completely destroyed. Everything blew away,” said Nellie Santiago. “Our lives have changed forever. Nothing is the same.”
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Jamilah’s daily routine in Furuglay had consisted of working on her farm and looking after her livestock, in order to earn money to feed her children. But as Somalia continued to suffer from severe drought, this resulted in food shortages that left many, like Jamilah, in desperate living conditions.
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