The European Commission has announced €500,000 in emergency funding to respond to the consequences of the massive fires in Cox's Bazar refugee camps in Bangladesh on 22 March. The fire affecting one of the largest refugee camps in the world has caused several deaths and injuries.
Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič said, "The devastation caused by the terrible fire in Cox's Bazar has worsened the already dire humanitarian situation faced by almost 1 million Rohingya refugees living in the camps. We extend our deepest sympathies to all those who have suffered terrible loss in this tragedy. We also commend the bravery of the emergency services, aid agencies, volunteers, and all those who fought tirelessly to contain the blaze and prevent further loss of lives. At this challenging time, the EU is stepping up its long-standing humanitarian assistance to those most in need. And we will continue to provide strong humanitarian aid support directly to the most vulnerable population.”
This funding will target the most urgent humanitarian needs of over 10,000 affected families, with a focus on shelter, water, sanitation, and hygiene, and non-food items.
As the damage to vital camp infrastructures is extensive, with almost total destruction of hospitals, health centres, distribution centres, water network, learning centres and other key infrastructure in the most affected camps, this emergency support is an immediate first response.
For decades, Bangladesh has provided a safe haven for Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar. However, a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state in August 2017 caused the massive influx of an additional 740,000 Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh, creating a severe humanitarian emergency. Bangladesh is also one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, exposed to a variety of natural hazards including cyclones, floods and earthquakes.
The EU has been working in Bangladesh since 2002, both in disaster preparedness and emergency response activities, with a total funding of more than €307.6 million. EU humanitarian aid provides life-saving support to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees living in the camps and settlements in Ukhia and Teknaf sub-districts. Additionally, the EU also continues to provide emergency assistance to people affected by natural hazards.
This funding comes in addition to the €24.5 million in humanitarian aid provided by the EU to humanitarian partners working in Bangladesh in 2021. This assistance also supports efforts to reduce the impact of natural hazards in highly affected parts of Bangladesh.