Massive fire at crammed Rohingya camp in Bangladesh leaves thousands homeless

Thousands of Rohingya Muslims in southern Bangladesh were rendered homeless after a fire raged through the Balukhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar/

Two thousand shelters were damaged or destroyed in the blaze on Sunday evening, said UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency.

“Impact of the massive fire in the camps in Bangladesh on 5 March: 2,000 shelters damaged or destroyed.

“12,000 Rohingya refugees who lost everything again.

“90 facilities including hospitals and learning centres burnt down,” the UNHCR Bangladesh said in a tweet.

Emdadul Haque, a fire service official, said no casualties were recorded, reported the Associated Press.

The fire was contained with the help of local firefighters and the coordinated efforts of UNHCR responders, said the agency.

Videos and images on social media showed large plumes of smoke over camps that house Rohingya refugees.

Over one million Rohingya refugees have 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.

After the military coup in Myanmar in 2021, attempts to send back Rohingya refugees have failed, while their conditions in the country have worsened.

The oppression of Rohingya in Myanmar amounts to genocide, the US said last year after authorities confirmed accounts of mass atrocities against civilians by the military in a systematic campaign against the ethnic minority.

The minority community faces widespread discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where most are denied citizenship and many other rights.

In January last year, 1,500 refugee homes were destroyed in a fire in another camp in Cox’s Bazar.

The blaze was the second such fire to have hit the Rohingya camp within a week.

In March 2021, a huge fire tore through the camps and at least 15 refugees were killed. More than 10,000 shanties were also gutted in the fire.

Additional reporting by agencies