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

​By Peter Kenny

GENEVA (AA): A large fire that swept through a camp in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar has impacted around 12,000 Rohingya refugees, causing considerable damage at the world’s largest refugee camp, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Monday.

Around 2,000 shelters were destroyed in Sunday’s fire while many affected refugees lost all their belongings leaving many experiencing fear, despair, and hopelessness, the IOM said.

“We are coordinating with other humanitarian actors to ensure that those affected are provided with immediate needs, including food; health; protection; water, sanitation, and hygiene needs,” said Fathima Nusrath Ghazzali, who heads the IOM in Bangladesh.

“Following the fire incident, refugees from these camps are looking to recover from the loss, damage, and shock; we will support them with assistance for shelter repair/rebuilding and access to cooking facilities.”

More than 1.2 million forcibly displaced Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar have been housed in 33 congested refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.

They 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.

The fire was first reported on Sunday afternoon, and IOM mobilized response teams to assist the refugees and coordinate with local authorities and the fire brigade.

Volunteers created fire breaks to prevent the fire from spreading and mitigate the loss of life and property.

The cause and origin of the fire are unknown at this stage, said IOM, and no fatalities were initially reported.

Immediately after the incident, IOM said it sent two mobile medical teams with 14 ambulances to assist those in need.

The conditions in the camps make large fires a real risk, said the IOM.

In March 2021, a massive fire that broke out in the camp resulted in the loss of lives, displaced 45,000 Rohingya refugees, and caused significant damage to the refugee camp.

[Photo: Smoke rises after a fire breaks out at Balukhali Rohingya Refugee camp in Ukhia could not be brought under control even after 2 hours in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh on March 05, 2023. The fire started from a room in the B block of camp number 11 of Balukhali around 3 pm on Sunday. Photojournalist :Mohammad Shajahan/AA]

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