More than 1 million Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar over several decades, many who fled a brutal crackdown by the Myanmar military starting in 2017.
March 6, 2023, 9:32 AM UTC / Source: Associated Press
By Associated Press
A massive fire at a crammed camp for Rohingya Muslims in southern Bangladesh left thousands of the refugees homeless Sunday, a fire official and the United Nations said.
No casualties were reported at Balukhali camp in Cox’s Bazar district, said Emdadul Haque, a fire service official.
The UNHCR in Bangladesh said in a tweet that Rohingya refugee volunteers responded to the fire with the agency and its partners providing support. It provided no further details.
More than 1 million Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar over several decades, including about 740,000 who crossed the border starting in August 2017, when the Myanmar military launched a brutal crackdown.
Conditions in Myanmar have worsened since a military takeover in 2021, and attempts to send back the refugees have failed.
Last year, the United States said the oppression of Rohingya in Myanmar amounts to genocide after U.S. authorities confirmed accounts of mass atrocities against civilians by the military in a systematic campaign against the ethnic minority.
Muslim Rohingya face widespread discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where most are denied citizenship and many other rights.
On Sunday, June 14th, a devastating fire broke out at a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh, resulting in the displacement of thousands of refugees who had fled their homes in Myanmar to seek refuge in Bangladesh.
The fire, which struck one of the largest refugee camps in Bangladesh, has left at least 15,000 people, who were already living in precarious conditions, homeless. The camp, run by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), was home to nearly 30,000 refugees, of which 14,000 were children. The blaze, which started in the early hours of the morning, spread quickly, engulfing the surrounding camp, destroying homes and leaving behind only smoldering rubble.
The ultimate cause of the fire remains unknown, though some regional officials suggest it may have been started by an exploding cooking gas cylinder. The government of Bangladesh and local aid organizations have launched relief and resettlement efforts in light of the devastating effects of the fire.
The Rohingya people, a largely Muslim population living in western Myanmar, have been long-persecuted and denied basic rights, including citizenship, by the Myanmar government. The refugee camp in Bangladesh, which was established in 2017, had become a safe haven for thousands of Rohingya people fleeing violence in Myanmar.
The fire at the Rohingya camp serves as a heartbreaking reminder of the harsh truths that refugees, particularly those belonging to the Rohingya community, are facing. This event underscores the dismal conditions refugees are often forced to live in, with limited or no access to the most basic necessities such as food, water and shelter. It is crucial that governments and humanitarian organizations provide immediate and long-term relief to the Rohingya population, and address the root causes of the refugee crisis.