Massive fire at Rohingya refugee camp leaves 12,000 without shelter


massive fire at a crammed camp for Rohingya Muslims in southern Bangladesh has left thousands of the refugees homeless, a fire official and the United Nations said.

No casualties were reported at Balukhali camp in Cox’s Bazar district, said Emdadul Haque, a fire service official.

The UNHCR in Bangladesh said in a tweet that Rohingya refugee volunteers responded to the fire with the agency and its partners providing support. It provided no further details.

“Some 2,000 shelters maintain been burnt, leaving about 12,000 forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals shelterless,” Mijanur Rahman, Bangladesh’s refugee commissioner, told AFP news agency.

The blaze was brought under control within three hours but at least 35 mosques and 21 learning centres for the refugees were also destroyed, he added.

The devastation left by the fire


More than 1 million Rohingya refugees maintain fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar over several decades, including about 740,000 who crossed the border starting in August 2017, when the Myanmar military launched a brutal crackdown.

Conditions in Myanmar maintain worsened since a military takeover in 2021, and attempts to send back the refugees maintain failed.

Between January 2021 and December 2022, there were 222 fire incidents in the Rohingya camps including 60 cases of arson, according to a Bangladesh defence ministry report released last month.

Last year, the United States said the oppression of Rohingya in Myanmar amounts to genocide after U.S. authorities confirmed accounts of mass atrocities against civilians by the military in a systematic campaign against the ethnic minority. Muslim Rohingya face widespread discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where most are denied citizenship and many other rights.