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Fire Destroys Rohingya Shelters in Bangladesh Refugee Camp

A fire tore through a refugee camp in southeastern Bangladesh, leaving thousands of Rohingya refugees without shelter.

The incident occurred in the early hours of the day, affecting hundreds of bamboo and tarpaulin shelters. Officials suspect arson as the cause of the blaze.

Refugee commissioner Mizanur Rahman reported that at least 711 shelters were fully burned, and 63 were partially damaged. Additionally, five education centers and two mosques were destroyed, rendering 4,000 people homeless.

While there were no casualties, suspicions of arson have prompted an investigation.

Shafiqul Islam, head of the Ukhiya Fire Station, stated that the fire broke out at midnight in the Kutupalong camp in Ukhiya and quickly spread, fueled by strong winds. Although not confirmed, preliminary statements from refugees suggest that a mud oven might have caused the fire.

The UN refugee agency acknowledged the significant damage to refugee shelters and expressed its support for those affected.

Fires are common in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, particularly during the dry season from November to April.

The camps also face violence between rival Rohingya groups, contributing to security concerns.

Last year, over 60 refugees were killed in turf wars and drug-related clashes, marking the highest number on record.

This incident follows a pattern of fires in Rohingya camps, with a notable fire in Kutupalong camp in March 2023 that destroyed 2,000 shelters.

Two years earlier, a blaze in the same camp claimed at least 15 lives and left 50,000 homeless.

The deteriorating conditions in Myanmar, following a military takeover in 2021, have complicated repatriation efforts, and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has emphasized that refugees will not be forcibly sent back.

Widespread discrimination against Muslim Rohingya persists in Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship and constitutional rights.

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