World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


UN Agencies Ramp Up Response For Rohingya Refugees In Wake Of ‘Unprecedented’ Fire

United Nations agencies have stepped up their efforts to assist thousands of Rohingya refugee families left homeless after last week’s devastating fire at the Kutupalong refugee camp in southern Bangladesh.

The blaze destroyed about 9,500 shelters and also reduced to ashes over 1,600 vital facilities, including hospitals, schools, and food and aid distribution centres. As of Tuesday, at least 11 people are confirmed to have perished in the fire and over 300 are still missing.

Richard Ragan, UN World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director in Bangladesh, said that the scale of the fire was “unprecedented” and that the agency is “determined” to help those affected get their lives back to normal as quickly as possible.

“WFP, together with our partners and thousands of volunteers, have supported the families since the start of the tragedy, in meeting their most urgent needs of food and water. Where two of our nutrition centres once stood, debris were cleared in record time, stocks were replenished, and services resumed for children and their mothers”, he said.

According to WFP, its top priority now is providing food to affected families, until they can have access to shelters and cooking stoves. It aims to reopen electronic voucher outlets to allow families to purchase staple and fish foods.

The agency has also erected temporary structures, from which it is providing breastfeeding support and counselling to mothers, and additional food to children under five.

“We are determined to do what we can to help them get their lives back to normal as quickly as possible”, Mr. Ragan added.

Mental health and psychosocial support

The UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) have also upped their response, deploying mental health and psychosocial support teams to help refugees who lost everything in the fire. So far, over 5,000 people have been provided with emotional and psychosocial support, and more than 700 with psychological first aid.

IOM also engaged over 11,500 cash-for-work laborers to help clear debris and support reconstruction.

UNHCR teams on the ground are monitoring the safety and security of refugees, and working to address the needs of separated children, spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said.

“Since the fire, together with our partners, we’ve identified more than 600 separated girls and boys who have been reunited with their families. Our protection partners also established two child protection helplines and four reunification help desks”, he added.

UNICEF A mother receives nutrition support for her acutely malnourished children at UNICEF’s temporary treatment centre, after the main centre was destroyed in the fire.

Refugee volunteers supporting response

Refugee volunteers are also supporting affected families, according to the UNHCR spokesperson. They were among the first responders to help combat the blaze and since then have been helping older refugees, children and pregnant women find shelters, escorting people to health care facilities, and identifying and referring refugees with specific needs to relevant services.

“They are also running awareness sessions on child protection risks such as child-trafficking and gender-based violence, fire safety, first aid and general assistance”, Mr. Mahecic added.

The UNHCR spokesperson also called for additional resources to address the immediate aftermath of the catastrophic fire.

“[We are] asking government and private sector donors to keep their contributions flexible, thus allowing their use across the overall operation.”

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN Agency: Thousands Flee Fresh Clashes In Central African Republic

Recent fighting between government forces and rebels in northern Central African Republic (CAR) has forced more than 2,000 refugees into neighboring Chad over the past week, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday. According to the agency, ... More>>

UN Chief: World On The Verge Of Climate ‘Abyss’, As Temperature Rise Continues

The Earth’s temperature continues to rise unabated, with 2020 being one of the three warmest years on record, as extreme weather events combine with the COVID-19 pandemic, impacting millions. According to the World Meteorological Organization’s ... More>>

Covid: 250 Groups Urge WTO Chief To Ditch Pharma-Friendly Approach And Embrace Vaccine Patent Waiver

by Jake Johnson, staff writer An international coalition of 250 civil society groups on Tuesday urged the head of the World Trade Organization to embrace a temporary suspension of coronavirus vaccine-related patents, warning against pursuit of a voluntary ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

C40: UN Secretary-General's Remarks To Meeting With Leading Mayors Supported By Cities

UN Secretary-General's remarks to Meeting with Leading Mayors Supported by C40 Cities: “Advancing a Carbon-Neutral, Resilient Recovery for Cities and Nations” 16 April 2021 Thank you for joining me today, and for your commitment and leadership. Cities ... More>>

Awake At Night: S3-Episode 21: There Is Hope

Brazzaville visit to CSI Pilote du Diabete with Health workers at a local government clinic. 2018 - Photo: ©CSI/Dr. Soumya Swaminathan 'When it comes to a pandemic, it really needs global collaboration and solidarity because the pathogens and viruses More>>

UN: Growing Calls For Revamping Development Financing To Ensure Sustainable Global Recovery From COVID-19 Pandemic

Forum to highlight new initiatives to tackle inequalities exacerbated by pandemic With many economies reeling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as inequalities continue to widen, world leaders will discuss options to unlock concrete investments ... More>>