Bangladeshi authorities have launched an investigation into the fire incident in Rohingya refugee camps, which has displaced 12,000 people.
The fire broke out on Sunday afternoon in Cox’s Bazar, a southeastern coastal district and the world’s largest refugee settlement.
About 1.2 million Rohingya Muslims are living in this town, who have taken shelter here after fleeing violence and persecution in the neighboring country of Myanmar.
The fire spread to Katupalong and Blokhli camps, destroying about 2,000 huts.
Commissioner Mizanur Rehman, who oversees the arrangements for the relief and repatriation of refugees, said that a fire broke out in three blocks of Rohingya camps, which affected around 12,000 people. All of them have lost their shelter.
He further said that no casualty has been reported yet. The district administration of Cox’s Bazar has formed a seven-member committee to find out the causes of the fire. The committee has been directed to submit the report within three days.
Mizan-ur-Rahman told Arab News that “the work of rehabilitating the shelters has already started and the International Organization for Migration has distributed housing materials to the Rohingya who will build their own houses.”
The United Nations Children’s Fund estimated that half of the refugees affected by the fires were children.
Atish Chakma, Deputy Assistant Director of the Fire Service and Civil Defense Department in Cox’s Bazar, told Arab News that “shelters have been built with flammable materials in the area.” Rohingya camps are overcrowded and temporary houses are built next to each other with no distance between them.
He further said that the plastic material used for the construction of these shelters is highly flammable. So whenever a fire breaks out in a house, it spreads rapidly.
According to Atish Chakma, there is a severe shortage of water inside the camps. Due to this, our firefighters face difficulties in extinguishing the fire.
According to Ministry of Defense data, at least 222 fire incidents were recorded in these settlements between January 2021 and December 2022.