Thousands of Bangladesh Rohingya Refugees Left Homeless After Fire Sweeps Camp

By Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.
January 10, 2022 Updated: January 10, 2022

More than 5,000 people were displaced after a massive fire swept through a Rohingya refugee camp in southern Bangladesh on Jan. 9, police said.

The fire broke out at Camp 16 in Cox’s Bazar, where more than a million Rohingya refugees live, a spokesman for the Armed Police Battalion, Kamran Hossain, said. About 1,200 houses were reportedly engulfed in flames, although there have been no reports of casualties so far, he said.

The cause of the fire is not yet clear, according to Mohammed Shamsud Douza, a government official in charge of refugees.

“The fire started at 4:40 p.m. and was brought under control at around 6:30 p.m.,” Hossain told reporters, according to The National News.

“Everything is gone. Many are without homes,” said Abu Taher, a Rohingya refugee.

The Rohingya refugees came from Burma, also known as Myanmar, and have been denied citizenship since a Burmese citizenship law was enacted in 1982. The United Nations said more than 700,000 Rohingya people fled to Bangladesh due to a military clampdown in 2017.

Another fire ripped through a COVID-19 treatment center for refugees sheltering in Bangladesh on Jan. 2. The U.N. migration agency IOM said in a Twitter post that while no casualties were reported as a result of the fire, some parts of the hospital were “badly damaged.”

“IOM and partners have worked hard to put out the fire and assist those in need,” the agency said.

A similar incident occurred last March in Bangladesh, when a massive fire ripped through a Rohingya refugee camp, killing at least 15 people and injuring 560 others. A U.N. official said that “around 45,000 people have been displaced, and approximately 10,000 shelters damaged or destroyed” as a result of the fire.

Meanwhile, more than 3,000 Rohingya businesses in Bangladesh have been demolished by authorities since last month as the “illegal” shops have sprouted as the country’s Rohingya population has increased.

Human rights groups had previously accused Bangladeshi authorities of forcing hundreds of Rohingya refugees to relocate to a remote island in the Bay of Bengal. Douza rejected that claim, saying that all 379 refugees “voluntarily” chose to relocate to Bashan Char Island in search of “a better and more secure life.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.