Fire destroys 250 Rohingya shelters

NEWS DESK

A fire in the Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar’s Ukhia on Friday destroyed nearly 250 shelters and other facilities, authorities said.

The fire broke out from the store room of Caritas NGO in Block D of Camp 13 around 11:00am and soon engulfed nearby shelters, said Cox’s Bazar Fire Service and Civil Defence deputy assistant director Atish Chakma.

Nine fire-fighting units from Cox’s Bazar, Ukhia, and Teknaf rushed to the spot and brought the fire under control in an hour-long effort before it was completely doused around 4:30pm, he said.

Chakma said that a firefighter named Ataur Rahman was injured while trying to douse the flame but was released from the hospital after primary treatment.

He could not immediately confirm the reason behind the fire.

‘A Rohingya security guard of the NGO told us that the fire started after an explosion of a solar panel in their store room. But we are not completely ruling out the possibility of an act of sabotage,’ Chakma said.

The Defence Ministry last year informed the parliamentary standing committee that 222 incidents of fire occurred in Rohingya camps between January 2021 and December 2022.

Ninety-nine of them were accidents, 60 were arson, and the cause of 63 fire incidents was undetermined.

This was the second major fire incident in the Rohingya camp this year after a similar fire destroyed 800 shelters on January 7.

Some 120 facilities, including learning centres, mosques, healthcare centres, latrines and bathing facilities, water points, and solar street lights, were also damaged in the January 7 fire, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Bangladesh is home to over one million Rohingyas, most of whom fled Myanmar after a brutal military crackdown in 2017 described by the UN as ethnic cleansing and possible genocide.

 

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