Bangladesh Fire in Cox’s Bazar leaves 12,000 Rohingya refugees homeless

The flames began this Sunday in Camp 11 in Cox’s Bazar and caused the destruction of some 2,000 shelters, which translates into the vulnerability of some 12,000 Rohingya refugees, according to the UNHCR office in Bangladesh. The incident was controlled in less than three hours and left no fatalities

Fires are common in the crowded refugee camps of the Rohingya community in Bangladesh. The latest, which occurred on Sunday, leveled thousands of makeshift shelters, shops and other facilities, as well as emanating thick clouds of black smoke across the area.

The fire started around 2:45 p.m. at Camp 11 in Kutupalong, belonging to the Cox’s Bazar district, considered one of the largest refugee settlements in the world. The flames quickly spread through the bamboo and canvas buildings, according to the explanation of Mijanur Rahman, Bangladesh refugee commissioner, to the AFP agency.

As a result, around 2,000 shelters were destroyed or damaged and some 12,000 Rohingyas “lost everything again,” said the Bangladesh office of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

In addition, 90 facilities, including hospitals and schools, were consumed, the entity detailed through Twitter. In that tally, Rahman added the loss of at least 35 mosques and 21 centers of learning, though there were no reports of injuries or deaths.

Local fire services and volunteers from the camp who were trained in fire control intervened to contain the incident, which was extinguished in less than three hours. UNHCR added that 16 of its mobile fire-fighting units “helped to reach the difficult area”.

At the moment it is not clear how the flames started, so the authorities have ordered an investigation.

An unresolved humanitarian crisis

More than a million Rohingya refugees live in refugee camps in Bangladesh, according to UNHCR figures. Most of them fled the military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in 2017 and took refuge in Bangladesh.

However, more than five years later, the humanitarian crisis is far from being resolved and attempts to return refugees to Myanmar have failed, especially since the military coup in that country in February 2021.

Added to the appalling living conditions and legal limbo is growing discontent among local populations and difficulties for the Bangladeshi authorities to maintain support for the refugees

And in recent days, cuts in food rations distributed by the UN World Food Program have affected a third of the allocations received by the Rohingya in the camps of Bangladesh.

In a statement issued on Thursday, March 2, the UN rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, called the cuts a “stain on the conscience of the international community” and called on countries to support the Rohingya more beyond rhetoric.

Specifically, the official pointed out that 125 million dollars in financing are needed to reverse these reductions, which he described as “shameful and catastrophic.”

“I have been able to speak with families who are desperate and for whom this situation is a matter of life or death,” said the US leader, who warned about the risks of malnutrition or even more serious diseases in Rohingya children if the panorama does not change. .


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