A massive fire broke out on Sunday morning in the world’s largest refugee camp — Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh leaving thousands of Rohingya refugees homeless. The blaze swept through the densely populated camp in the country’s southeast, where bamboo and tarpaulin shelters were tightly packed.
Refugee Commissioner Mizanur Rahman mentioned suspicions of arson.
The camp has been sheltering thousands of Rohingyas since the 2017 military coup in neighbouring Myanmar.
Rahman said, “At least 711 shelters were fully burned and 63 were partially damaged,”.
Reports about the incidents mention there were 5 education centres, 2 mosques and 4000 people were homeless. No casualties were mentioned.
“We have ordered a probe into the fire,” he added. “We suspect it is an act of arson”.
The head of the Ukhiya Fire Station, Shafiqul Islam told to The Associated Press, “The fire was big, and it destroyed about 1,040 shelters in the camp,”.
The fire broke out at midnight at Kutupalong camp in Ukhiya and spread in a very short period due to strong winds.
“We took about two hours to get the blaze under control, engaging 10 fire units from Ukhiya and other stations in the district.”
Islam said that although it is not confirmed, preliminary statements from the refugees suggested that it was caused by a mud oven.
The UN refugee agency said the “large fire damaged many refugee shelters”, adding that it was “supporting people affected”.
Police say security in the camps has worsened, with more than 60 refugees killed in turf wars and drug-related clashes last year, the highest number on record.
In March 2023, a fire in Kutupalong camp – one of the world’s largest refugee settlements – destroyed 2,000 shelters.
Two years earlier, at least 15 Rohingya were killed and 50,000 were left homeless after a blaze in the same camp.
Rohingya groups have shared an appeal for urgent humanitarian aid after the blaze left thousands homeless