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UNICEF Assists with Rescue, Recovery at Rohingya Camp Fire


A fire is seen at a Balukhali refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, March 22, 2021. (Courtesy of Rohingya Right Team/MD Arakani/Handout via Reuters)

UNICEF workers have arrived at the scene of a fire at a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh to assist local authorities with rescue and recovery efforts, according to a press statement Monday.

The Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar is one of the largest refugee settlements in the world. It is home to about 877,000 refugees, many of whom escaped ethnic cleansing in Myanmar four years ago.

More than half of the refugees are believed to be children, the UNICEF statement said.

"Our priority is to secure the immediate safety, security and protection of children in coordination with the concerned authorities, first responders and partner organizations in the U.N. and NGO community," UNICEF said in the statement.

UNICEF fears many of the injured are children and that many have been separated from their families, according to the statement, which said efforts are under way to assist children in need, reunite families, and deliver emergency supplies as well as clean drinking water.

The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society tweeted "reports of casualties are being verified."

In the same tweet, it indicated that the fire was "finally coming under control" in the Balukhali camp, noting it had destroyed a large expanse of shelters and facilities.

Reports suggest about 1,200 shacks have been destroyed while some 10,000 people were sheltered in schools.

Although UNICEF said many of the residents displaced by the inferno were evacuated, it said "the full extent of the disaster is yet to be confirmed."

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