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Massive fire breaks out in a Rohingya refugee camp on Burmese/Bangladesh border

Rohingya refugee camp fire
PHOTO: Rohingya refugee camp fire - BBC

On Sunday, a massive fire broke out in a Rohingya refugee camp located in southeastern Bangladesh, leaving thousands of people without shelter. The blaze engulfed approximately 2,000 bamboo and tarpaulin shelters in the notoriously overcrowded Cox’s Bazar camp, which is home to an estimated 12,000 refugees who fled violence in Myanmar.

The cause of the fire is unknown, and no casualties have been reported at this stage.

The fire started at around 2:45 pm local time and spread rapidly, destroying 35 mosques and 21 learning centres. Bangladesh’s refugee commissioner, Mijanur Rahman, said the blaze was brought under control within three hours, but photos of the camp show the extent of the devastation.

Basic services such as water centers and testing facilities have also been affected, and the overcrowded and squalid conditions of the camp make it particularly vulnerable to fires. A Bangladesh defense ministry report released last month revealed that between January 2021 and December 2022, there were 222 fire incidents in the Rohingya camps, including 60 cases of arson.

The Cox’s Bazar camp is said to be the world’s largest refugee camp, housing people who fled from Myanmar following a military crackdown against the Rohingya ethnic minority. The Rohingya are Muslims in largely Buddhist Myanmar, where they have faced persecution for generations. The latest exodus of Rohingya escaping to Bangladesh began in August 2017, after Myanmar’s military brutally retaliated when a Rohingya insurgent group launched attacks on several police posts.

Hundreds of people have returned to the area to salvage what they can from the ruins, but many are left without basic necessities and shelter.

Rohingya refugee camp fire

PHOTO: Rohingya refugee camp fire – BBC

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