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DHAKA, Bangladesh – A fire swept through a Rohingya refugee camp in southeastern Bangladesh in the early hours of Sunday, January 7, destroying about 800 shelters and rendering thousands homeless, officials said.
Fire service officials and Rohingya volunteers brought the blaze under control around three hours after it hit Camp 5 in Cox’s Bazar, a border district with Myanmar, shortly before 1 am.
Apart from homes, several other facilities like learning centers were also gutted, Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner in Cox’s Bazar, Mohammed Mizanur Rahman said, adding that there were no casualties.
UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, said nearly 7,000 have been made homeless by the blaze and around 120 facilities, including mosques and healthcare centers were damaged.
“We have made all arrangements… they are being given food and temporary shelters,” said Mohammad Shamsud Douza, the deputy Bangladesh government official in charge of refugees.
Nearly a million members of the Muslim minority from Myanmar live in crammed, bamboo-and-plastic camps in Bangladesh’s border district of Cox’s Bazar, most of them having fled a military crackdown in 2017.
“The cause of the fire currently remains unknown, and we are assured by the government authorities that an investigation into the cause of the fire will be carried out,” UNHCR said.
Fires often break out in the crowded camps with its makeshift structures. A massive blaze in March 2021 killed at least 15 refugees and destroyed more than 10,000 homes.
Last year about 12,000 were left homeless after nearly 2,800 shelters and more than 90 facilities including hospitals and learning centres were destroyed in a fire. An investigating panel set up by the panel called it a “planned act of sabotage.” – Rappler.com