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Huge fire devastates Rohingya camp in Bangladesh, renders thousands homeless

Anisur Rahman
·2-min read

Dhaka, Jan 14 (PTI) A huge fire swept through a crammed Rohingya camp in southeastern Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar, destroying at least 500 ramshackle shelters and leaving hundreds of people without homes, Bangladeshi and UN officials said on Thursday.

The fire erupted in the pre-dawn hours on Thursday at Rohingyas’ makeshift Nayapara camp, the officials said, adding no casualty has been reported.

'The blaze burnt into ashes at least 500 structures . . . We have launched an investigation to ascertain what caused the fire alongside assessing the extent of damage and losses,' Bangladesh government's relief commissioner Shamsuddoza Nayan told reporters at the scene.

Fortunately, the blaze claimed no life nor did it leave anyone severely wounded. The affected people were shifted to another place and provided with food and necessary items, he said.

The fire officials said it took them some two hours to extinguish the blaze.

Residents of the camp told reporters that flames quickly spread from one edge and enveloped the entire camp, prompting people in the adjacent camps as well to flee their shanties amid the chaos.

The fire struck the Rohingya camp at a time when Bangladesh look for long-term solutions for the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have crossed its border from Myanmar in recent years and has launched a process to relocate nearly one tenth of over 1.1 million Rohingyas to an offshore island called Bhashanchar.

Over a million Rohingyas fled Myanmar to Bangladesh since a military clampdown began there to oust a predominantly Muslim ethnic group from their homeland at Rakhine state.

The United Nations has termed it a “textbook example” of ethnic cleansing while rights group called the campaign a “genocide”.

After initial resistance, Bangladesh opened its border for the fleeting Rohingyas on humanitarian ground and since then Cox’s Bazar that borders Rakhine state has become a makeshift home for hundreds of the refugees.

A nearly identical blaze in May last year reduced to ashes over 400 shelter homes in the nearby Kutupalang Rohingya camp. PTI AR MRJ MRJ