Fire tears through Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh leaving thousands homeless
A fire swept through a Rohingya refugee camp in southeastern Bangladesh on Sunday, 9 January 2022, destroying hundreds of homes, according to officials and witnesses, though there were no immediate reports of casualties. The blaze hit Camp 16 in Cox's Bazar, a border district where than a million Rohingya refugees live, with most having fled a military-led crackdown in Myanmar in 2017. The blaze was first reported just before 17h00 local time and caused considerable damage to sections of the largest camp of its kind in the world, affecting both refugees and members of the host community. Response teams were deployed to protect refugees and bring the situation back under control, in coordination with the local authorities and fire brigade. Teams from UN migration agency IOM were mobilised on Sunday.
Mohammed Shamsud Douza, a Bangladesh government official in charge of refugees, said emergency workers had brought the fire under control. The cause of the blaze has not been established, he added.
“We are coordinating with other humanitarian actors to ensure that those affected are provided with food, health, protection, water, sanitation, and hygiene needs,” said Nusrath Ghazzali, officer-in-charge for IOM Bangladesh. Top priorities include shelter repair and rebuilding, as well as access to cooking facilities.
The World Food Programme (WFP) on Monday reported that it has begun serving hot meals to some 2 200 camp residents. The agency will distribute hot meals twice daily to all families who now have no means of cooking for themselves.
Estimates of the number of Rohingya refugees living in Cox's Bazar range from 800 000 to more than 900 000, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Save the Children.
"Everything is gone. Many are without homes," said Abu Taher, a Rohingya refugee.
Another blaze tore through a COVID-19 treatment centre for refugees in another refugee camp in the district last Sunday, causing no casualties.
A devastating fire last March swept through the world’s biggest refugee settlement in Cox's Bazar, killing at least 15 refugees and burned down more than 10 000 shanties.
Source: Reuters, UN