Massive fire breaks out at Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh

Massive fire breaks out at Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh
2 min read
22 March, 2021
Three people are reportedly dead and hundreds of shelters destroyed after a blaze swept through a Rohingya refugee camp in southern Bangladesh.
More than 700 shelters have been destroyed [UNHCR/Facebook]
A massive fire ripped through a Bangladesh refugee camp on Monday, destroying hundreds of tents housing Rohingya Muslims who fled a military crackdown in neighbouring Myanmar.

More than 700 shelters have been "gutted" by the ongoing blaze in the Balukhali camp, Rohingya youth leader Mayyu Khan told Turkish state news agency Anadolu. That number could be as high as 1,000, according to local media.

"The fire has gone almost out of control," Khan said.

At least three people were killed in the blaze, according to community representative Muhammad Ayub. 

The dead included two children aged six and nine, Ayub told Anadolu, adding that several others remain missing.

The New Arab could not indepedently verify the reports of casualties.

The United Nations refugee agency has said "efforts are underway" to prevent the fire from spreading to other camps.

"Humanitarian partners have mobilised hundreds of volunteers from nearby camps to support the efforts, as well as fire safety vehicles and equipment," the UNHCR's Bangladesh office said in a Facebook post.

"So far the fire has affected shelters, health centres, distribution points and other facilities. Volunteers are supporting those affected," it added.

The inferno is the latest in recent months to devastate Cox's Bazar, the southern Bangladeshi district home to around a million Rohingya refugees.

A January fire in the Nayapara camp totally or partially destroyed more than 550 shelters, according to UNHCR. Those shelters were home to around 3,500 people.

More than 100 shops and a facility belonging to a non-profit were also destroyed in the blaze, the UNHCR said.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar since 2017 when the Burmese military began a crackdown that the UN says was committed with genocidal intent.

The ethnic Muslim minority are persecuted and denied citizenship in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, which claims they are illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

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