Police said more than 5,000 people had been evacuated after a massive fire broke out on Sunday at a Rohingya refugee camp in southern Bangladesh, but the cause of the fire has not been identified.
Armed Police Battalion spokesman Kamran Hossein said a fire broke out at Camp 16 in Cox’s Bazar, home to more than one million Rohingya refugees.
Hossain claimed that about 1,200 homes were engulfed in flames and more than 5,000 were evacuated, but so far no casualties have been reported.
“The fire started at 4:40 pm and was extinguished around 6:30 pm,” Hossein told reporters. National news reported..
Mohammad Shamsud Douza, a refugee officer in the Government of Bangladesh, said rescuers had put down the fire, but the cause of the fire has not been identified.
“Everything is gone. Many have no homes,” said Rohingya refugee Abu Tahel.
Rohingya refugees come from Burma, also known as Myanmar, and have been denied citizenship since the Burmese Citizenship Act was enacted in 1982. According to the United Nations, more than 700,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh due to the 2017 military crackdown.
On January 2, another fire broke out at the COVID-19 Treatment Center for refugees evacuating to Bangladesh. The United Nations Immigration Agency IOM said in a Twitter post that no fire casualties were reported, but some of the hospitals were “severely damaged.”
“IOM and our partners have worked hard to put out the fire and help those in need,” the agency said.
A similar incident broke out in Bangladesh last March, causing a massive fire in the Rohingya refugee camp, killing at least 15 people and injuring 560. “Approximately 45,000 people have been evacuated and approximately 10,000 shelters have been damaged or destroyed” as a result of the fire, UN officials said.
Meanwhile, more than 3,000 Rohingya companies in Bangladesh were demolished by authorities last month following an increase in the country’s Rohingya population and illegal store operations. “The number of Rohingya is increasing,” Douza said, saying authorities are building huts on the premises where there were illegal shops.
Human rights groups have previously accused Bangladeshi authorities of migrating hundreds of Rohingya refugees to remote islands in the Bay of Bengal. Douza denied this, claiming that all 379 refugees “voluntarily” chose to move to Bashan Char Island in search of a “better, safer life.”
Reuters contributed to this report.