A Rohingya refugee camp has been destroyed by fire in southern Bangladesh. The camp at Nayapara, Cox’s Bazar was home to nearly 3,500 Rohingya people who fled from the military occupation of Myanmar in 2017. The blaze started in the early hours of January 14 which eventually destroyed 550 shelters as well as 150 shops. The authority is running an investigation on the possible causes of the fire along with security experts. The deputy Bangladesh government official in charge of Rohingya refugees, Mohammed Shamsud Douza says, the local fire service struggled to extinguish the fire since there were explosions of gas cylinders inside the shelters. It took 2 hours to put out the fire. No reports of casualties were found from the spot.
The affected Rohingya families lost everything they had. Some were found digging the ashes in search of their belongings that still is of value. While the local authority is in an indecisive position of either to rebuild the shelter or to move the refugees elsewhere, the UNHCR continues to provide essential survival kits like warm clothes and hot meals to the affected.
Fire incidents are not uncommon in the Rohingya refugee camps of Bangladesh. Kutupalong refugee camp was burnt to the ground in May 2020. The last year also saw several minor fire incidents in the Rohingya camps of Cox’s Bazar. Onno van Manen, the country director of Save the Children in Bangladesh called the blaze “another devastating blow” for Rohingya people who already underwent stages of hardship for years. The NGO also raised concerns about the Rohingya children who are facing risks of protection and uncertain access to basic needs. The earlier relocation of Rohingyas to a remote island despite criticism and the recent fire incident is reminding the international community of a lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis.