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The fire destroyed homes, belongings, and important documents, including identification and data cards, that allow Rohingya refugees to work and access food and essential services in Cox’s Bazar. Many people, particularly children, were separated from their families as they ran to find safety amidst extreme chaos and confusion.
Repeated shocks and stresses have caused a spike in mental health needs. Action Against Hunger teams are on the ground, working tirelessly to provide psychological first aid, in addition to serving meals, rehabilitating facilities and water points, and reconnecting families.
When they fled Myanmar, Ismael stepped up to serve as a community leader known as a Majhi. “Helping people gives me hope,” he says. “It keeps me going.“
As Majhi, he feels a great responsibility to care for his community. In the wake of the fire, he has not been able to stop thinking about the victims trapped in the blaze – and what more he could have done to help them: “I could have acted promptly…I was sure that the fire would not reach our block.”
Action Against Hunger’s teams of psychosocial workers have been deployed to offer counseling and support to hundreds of people like Ismael, who are dealing with feelings of guilt, anger, fear, and more as a result of this new trauma. During his counselling session, Ismael began to understand how normal his feelings were. As he spoke and our psychosocial worker listened, he started to feel a little lighter.
Violent and deadly shocks continue to hit the Rohingya community, leaving deep marks on the entire society, especially on children. Refugee camps are the last resort for persecuted communities, who have nowhere else to go. The humanitarian community, along with other key stakeholders, must seek sustainable and dignified solutions for the displaced Rohingya, and until then, refugee camps should be rebuilt in a safer way to prevent future fires and other hazards.
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