Rohingya camp fire: 5 killed, hundreds rendered homeless

Cox’s Bazar, Mar 23 : At least five people, including three children, were reportedly killed in a fire that broke out at the Balukhali Rohingya camp in Ukhiya upazila of Cox’s Bazar district on Monday.The identities of the deceased are yet to be established, police said Tuesday.
Besides, several hundred shanties were gutted in the massive fire at the camp, said Atikul Islam, Commanding Officer of 14 battalion of APBn (police superintendent) of the Rohingya camp.
Ahmed Nizam Uddin, Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) of Ukhiya, said, “Primarily, it’s suspected that several hundred shanties of the over 9,000 Rohingya families living in the camp were gutted in the fire.”
Sihab Kaisar, assistant superintendent of APBn-8 police, said the fire broke out at Balukhali Rohingya camp nos 8 and 9 around 4.30 pm Monday.
On information, seven firefighting units rushed to the spot and contained the blaze around 9.30 pm.
Later, the firefighters recovered the charred bodies of five people from the camp.
Besides, offices of some local and foreign NGOs and a police barrack in the camp were gutted in the fire.
Meanwhile, the Rohingya people, who lost their belongings, have taken shelter on Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf highway, said local UP chairman Gafur Uddin.
Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar and Bhashan Char in Noakhali. The majority of them came here in August 2017, fleeing persecution in their homeland of Rakhine state in Myanmar.
UNICEF has expressed its deepest sympathy to the Rohingyas affected by Monday’s fire in the Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar.
The fire that occurred on Monday already caused “enormous devastation”, spreading rapidly through shanties and displacing thousands of people, it says.
While large-scale evacuations have taken place, the full extent of the disaster is yet to be confirmed.
“UNICEF and our partners are on the ground addressing the immediate and urgent needs of children and families. UNICEF has mobilised health teams for first aid support as well as volunteers to evacuate refugees from their shelters,” said UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh, Tomoo Hozumi.
“UNICEF child protection personnel and their partner organizations are working to assist children in need including separated children. Our partners are also delivering emergency supplies and clean drinking water,” the representative added.
UNICEF also thanked the local authorities and front-line responders for their efforts to bring the fire under control.
“Our priority is to secure the immediate safety, security and protection of children in coordination with the authorities concerned, first responders and partner organisations in the UN and NGO community.”
The Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar is one of the largest refugee settlements in the world, hosting over 1 million Rohingyas, over half of whom are children.
Over 725,000 Rohingya refugees fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh in August 2017, following a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.