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.”