28th MARCH 2021
Dear Chief Editors,Tweet
URGENT PRESS STATEMENT
CONDUCT THOROUGH INVESTIGATION INTO THE MASSIVE FIRES IN REFUGEE CAMP, CRIMINALS MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE.
Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia (MERHROM) is deeply saddened by the massive fire at the Balukhali refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar at a time when Muslims will be celebrating the holy month of Ramadhan in 2 weeks. The situation of refugees in the refugee camp already at a dire situation what more during Covid 19 Pandemic. Now they are facing a terrible disaster due to massive fire. We cannot imagine how they are coping with the situation over there.
MERHROM appeals to the humanitarian agencies, United Nations agencies, World Leaders and the international community to send emergency humanitarian aid especially for shelters, food and clean water, medicines, clothes etc.
In this situation, traumatized fire victims need to be given counseling though we understand this is very challenging when the victims involved are too large. A Rohingya refugee from Cox’s Bazar refugee camp called and told me “it was like seeing the apocalypse”. He recounted the incident while crying until he could not continue the conversation. From the information received, the number of deaths and destruction is much higher than reported. The rest of refugees in other camps also traumatized. They are fear same thing will happen to their camps.
The Rohingya are particularly vulnerable inside Myanmar and in refugee camps. There are no security guarantees inside Myanmar or in refugee camps. This is not the first fire incident at the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp. The latest fire occurred in January 2021 at Nayapara refugee camp resulting in the destruction of about 550 shelters and 150 shops.
We deeply regret that refugees have difficulty rescuing themselves as a result of the barbed wire fencing surrounding the camp without adequate emergency gates when faced with an emergency or disaster. Barbed wire fencing trapped thousands of refugees and blocking the help from arriving timely.
We are deeply concerns on the safety of the victims especially women and girls as they are vulnerable to human trafficking syndicates. There are lots of children who are separated from their families and facing threats to their security.
We fear the number of deaths, injuries and missing refugees will increase. Therefore MERHROM call upon the United Nations agencies, Bangladesh government, Humanitarian organization, World Leaders and international community to:
- send emergency aid especially shelter, food and water, medicine, clothes etc. for the victims
- fully investigate the massive fire in order to prosecute the criminals and to prevent the similar incident in the future
- conduct data collection to find out the actual number of deaths, injuries, missing refugees and destructions. Refugee Leaders can assist UNHCR in this process
- remove all fencing around the camps in order for refugees to escape from fire. The shelter were made from bamboo and plastic which is prone to fire
- launch rescue team to search for children who separated from their family
- establish a trauma centre for the affected victims
- Re-built the facilities especially health facility to treat victims
- Stop Rohingya Genocide and establish real Democracy in Myanmar to prevent its citizen from fleeing the country and become victims in transit countries.
Zafar Ahmad Bin Abdul Ghani
Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia (MERHROM)
Tel No: +6016-6827 287
Note: MERHROM is a focal point for Rohingya issues in exile as well as in Arakan State of Myanmar. MERHROM was established in 1998 by its founder Mr. Zafar Ahmad bin Abdul Ghani. MERHROM’s main works are focusing on advocacy, rights protection, public awareness, community development, health, education, combating human traffciking and democracy in Myanmar. MERHROM has carried out its duty to the maximum level for the past 23 years despite not having funding from any agencies. Despite having very limited resources MERHROM continues to carry out the programs within its capacity endlessly.