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WFP Geneva Palais Briefing Note: WFP response to devastating fire in Rohingya refugee camp in COX's Bazaar

This is a summary of what was said by WFP spokesperson Tomson Phiri – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

GENEVA - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is working tirelessly to assist people in need following the devastating fire outbreak that tore through four settlements in the Kutupalong Mega Camp in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh.

WFP immediately provided emergency rations of high-energy biscuits to evacuated families sheltering with friends and families in nearby camps and transit centres and will today – 23 March – provide 60,000 hot meals to affected families.

Last night, WFP's Engineering experts were deployed to help contain the fire while food assistance teams provided rapid assistance to affected families. WFP also deployed light and heavy machinery, including water tanks, to support the response.

Although the full extent of the damage will become clearer once assessments have been finalized, our front-line staff in the camps reported horrific scenes of devastation, destruction, and despair. One of them said imagine losing everything when you were forced from your home just three years ago, only to lose it all over again, and the pain of watching helplessly as your prized – and only - possessions go up in flames.

Two WFP nutrition centres and one General Food Distribution point were burnt to the ground. WFP has been forced to close two other nutrition sites and an electronic-voucher outlet until damage is assessed.  

It is not immediately clear exactly how the fire started but what is clear is that the refugees will need substantial support to get them back on their feet again.


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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.


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Bangladesh Refugees and migration


Tomson Phiri, WFP/Geneva,, Mob. +41 79 842 8057