Bangladesh probes fire that left thousands of Rohingya refugees homeless

Dhaka, Mar 6 (EFE).- Bangladesh on Monday began investigating a devastating fire that burnt 2,000 Rohingya Muslim shelters in the southeast of the country a day ago, displacing at least 12,000 refugees.

The fire at the crammed refugee camp in the country’s southeast Cox’s Bazar occurred on Sunday.

“We visited the camp today and took the statement of witnesses. We have to find the source of the fire,” district magistrate Abu Sufian, leading the probe, told EFE.

The probe committee spoke to many witnesses, including a Rohingya teenager detained by police on suspicion of arson.

“We took his statement and the statements of other witnesses. We hope to speak to 60 to 70 people before we give the report,” said Sufian.

Cox’s Bazar police chief Mahfuzul Islam told EFE that they were interrogating the boy to know if the fire was an act of sabotage, but he had not been arrested.

Bangladesh Defense Ministry last month informed a parliamentary panel that 222 incidents of fire occurred in Rohingya camps between January 2021 and December 2022.

Ninety-nine were accidents, 60 were arson, and the cause of 63 fire incidents was undetermined.

EFE obtained a copy of the report but could not independently verify it.

The latest fire displaced at least 12,000 people and destroyed or damaged 2,000 shelters, including 90 health facilities and learning centers, said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Emdadul Haque, the in-charge of the local fire station, told EFE that the fire was brought under control in about three and half hours on Sunday.

No casualties were reported in the incident.

A UNICEF statement said Monday that 6,000 children were affected by the fire.

“The fire destroyed 2,000 shelters and a large number of facilities that provide critical services to refugee children and their families,” said the statement.

“Among these are over 20 learning centres, at least one nutrition centre, and several sanitation facilities.”

On Mar.22, 2021, a massive fire killed 15 people and destroyed 10,000 shacks, affecting as many as 45,000 refugees, according to UN reports.

Bangladesh is home to over 925,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled neighboring Myanmar, including around 774,000 who escaped after the military launched a campaign in 2017 described as ethnic cleansing and possible genocide by the UN. EFE


Related Articles

Back to top button