Send An Email to Bangladesh Prime Minister
A catastrophic fire ravaged the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh on 22nd March 2021. Escape and attempts to put out the fire were hindered by barbed wire fencing. Shelters of more than 50,000 people were destroyed.
Families were split up, belongings left behind and an unknown number of people died. Hundreds remain missing. Charred bodies of small children were found in the ashes. For many the gates were very far to reach. Young children and the infirm were lost or left behind.
Even before the fire, the barbed wire fence with watchtowers:
restricted refugees’ right to freedom of movement;
increased tension and division between Rohingya refugees and the host community;
cut through shelters;
took away freedom of movement;
is dangerous, especially for children;
stopped children accessing playing fields;
resulted in elderly, vulnerable and pregnant women having to walk long distances to access markets and clinics;
stopped pregnant women going for regular check ups;
saw medical emergencies becoming life threatening because of the distance to reach the gates;
increased travel costs for Rohingya shop keepers who have to travel longer distances to get supplies;
created extortion at the gates;
is ugly and a symbol of oppression;
feels like an extension of the genocide;
increased feelings of isolation and alienation;
turned the camps into an open air prison.
Please send an email or letter to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh
Start with Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and a sentence about yourself to make your message unique.
Share your distress about the effect of the barbed wire fence, mentioning some of the points above.
Call on her government to immediately remove the barbed wire fencing in the Rohingya refugee camps.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
Prime Minister’s Office
Old Sangsad Bhaban
Tejgaon, Dhaka - 1215
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / Cc: email@example.com;
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Nearly one million Rohingya live in the biggest refugee camp in the world in Bangladesh, having fled genocide in Myanmar. Most of them arrived between 2016 – 2017 when their homes were burnt by the Myanmar military and at least 10,000 men, women and children were killed. In September 2019, The Bangladesh Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence recommended building a security fence around the camps and then the Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan made a statement to say that barbed wire fencing with watchtowers and CCTV cameras would be installed.
In September 2019, HRW warned Bangladesh authorities that the fence "places them at serious risk should they need to evacuate in an emergency or obtain emergency medical and other humanitarian services."
In March 2021 over 20 INGOs that operate in the camps put out a joint statement following the fire, expressing their concerns regarding the barbed wire fence:
"We are especially horrified by accounts shared with us by Rohingya refugees, who told us they were trapped and unable to reach safety due to the fencing that now encloses the camps and, in some instances, had to cut an opening through the barbed wire fence to survive. The fencing hampered the ability of refugees to escape and caused significant delays to fire services. Fleeing in these circumstances is even more difficult, if not impossible, for refugees with disabilities. The delays contributed to greater damage to the homes, learning centers and health facilities, upon which the refugees rely, particularly in one camp where everything was destroyed."
HRW said, “Refugees have horrifying accounts of being trapped inside barbed wire fencing as the fire swept through the Rohingya refugee camps. The authorities should immediately take down all fencing around the camps and make public the outcome of its investigation into the fire’s cause.”