Massive Fire at Bangladesh Rohingya Camp Leaves Thousands Homeless

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A massive fire harmed hundreds of makeshift shelters at a Rohingya evacuee camp in southeastern Bangladesh on Monday, officials claimed, yet can not quickly confirm reports that there fell.

Firemens took greater than 8 hrs to extinguish the blaze, which was fanned by high winds after it broke out in the mid-day at the Balukhali camp, Bangladeshi refugee relief and repatriation authorities stated.

“As of now, as numerous as 7,000 residences have been damaged – 2,000 homes are completely gutted, the remaining 5,000 houses are partly burned,” Mohammad Shamsud Douza, an extra commissioner for evacuee alleviation as well as repatriation, told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online information solution.

There were records of casualties from numerous resources, said Rashedul Hasan, an additional official with Bangladesh’s refugee relief firm.

“But that can not be validated currently. The fire spread really rapidly as your houses were in a very congested atmosphere and there were strong winds,” he claimed.

“It will certainly take a long period of time to inform the extent of the damages triggered by the fire,” Douza said, including that the blaze was the largest of at the very least 25 significant fires in Cox’s Bazar camps given that 2017.

The majority of the 1 million Rohingya who fled from surrounding Myanmar stay in 34 refugee camps around the district, including greater than 740,000 who got away a brutal military crackdown in nearby Rakhine state in 2017.

Many evacuees claimed they were still searching for their relatives after Monday’s fire.

“I don’t recognize if they are alive. This is the most awful fire occurrence in the camp,” Noor Habib, a citizen of the Balukhali camp, informed BenarNews.

“Lots of youngsters can not be located … one of my grand sons is likewise lost,” Shamsul Alam, another homeowner, claimed.

The AFP information agency reported that five people were feared dead in Monday’s blaze.

Richard Ragan, Bangladesh supervisor of the United Nations’ Globe Food Program, said the variety of homes damaged in the fire was a lot more than 7,000.

The blaze damaged greater than 15,000 shelters as well as displaced greater than 50,000 refugees, he said using Twitter.

Seven fire-fighting units along with army workers worked to blow out the flames, authorities said.

“We have actually learned that the fire broke out at camp number eight and also spread out swiftly to the shelters in the overloaded camp,” Hasan said.

Tayeba Begum, a volunteer at Save the Children, an NGO, said evacuees were running helter-skelter as they attempted to get away the fires.

“The fire spread out so rapidly that prior to we understood what happened, it captured our home,” Tayeba said, according to a news release from the NGO.

“Individuals were shouting and running here and there. Children were also running spread, crying for their household. It is one of the most dreadful case I have observed recently.”

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Rohingya refugees run away with their personal belongings after a big fire in the Balukhali camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, March 22, 2021. [Sunil Barua/BenarNews]

UNICEF said it listened to reports that children were amongst those wounded.

“While the circumstance remains to progress right into the late night, first records are that kids are among the wounded, which there are also children that have actually been separated from their family members,” the U.N. agency said in a statement.

“While large-scale evacuations have taken place, the full level of the disaster is yet to be confirmed.”

Thousands of refugees who lost their homes are searching for different sanctuaries, evacuees claimed.

“They have shed everything. Some are moving towards the Kutupalong camp,” Md. Sukkur Majhi, a Rohingya leader, told BenarNews.

Douza claimed officials were attempting to transfer the displaced Rohingya.

Camps: At high-risk for fires

According to the fire service, an overall of five fires have occurred in evacuee camps this year, including Monday’s incident.

In a huge fire at a camp on Jan. 14, greater than 550 shelters were gutted, leaving some 3,000 Rohingya homeless, yet there were no deaths.

The risk of fires is high in the stretching camps, stated Onno Van Manen, country supervisor for Conserve the Children.

“It is one more devastating impact to the Rohingya refugees who live below. Just a number of days ago we lost one of our health facilities in an additional fire. The threats of fires in these very densely populated and also constrained locations are massive,” Van Manen claimed in a declaration.

“We are bothered with the effect this event will have on kids: those that will have shed their residences, discovering centers and child-friendly spaces in the blaze. We are also worried about the psychological health and wellness effects of experiencing such a stressful event,” he added.

Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.