Major fire leaves 5,000 Rohingya refugees homeless in Bangladesh’s Cox Bazar

At least two children including a six-year-old boy were burnt alive in the devastating fire that destroyed over 400 makeshift houses in the Kutupalong refugee camp. This was the sixth major fire incident reported from Bangladesh’s Cox Bazar this year

March 09, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Rohingya refugees entering Bangladesh after being driven out of Myanmar, 2017. Photo: Wikimedia commons

More than 5,000 Rohingya refugees have been rendered homeless after a massive fire engulfed the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh’s Cox Bazar on Tuesday, March 8. At least two children including a six-year-old boy were among those burnt alive in the devastating fire that destroyed more than 400 makeshift houses in Camp 5. This is the sixth such fire incident reported from Cox Bazar this year.

“We have nothing left. Every little thing we owned has turned into ashes in the fire,” one of the refugees said.

As per reports, the fire gutted the refugee camp which was congested with makeshift structures mostly made up of highly inflammable dry bamboo and tarpaulin. “At around 4:30 pm in the evening, the fire raced through camp 5 which in no time spread around, gutting around 400 shelters,” another refugee said.

The repeated occurrence of fires has created a sense of fear among the Rohingya refugees. Most of them feel that the congestion within the refugee camps makes the situation highly volatile and deadly. 

In January, a massive fire destroyed nearly 12,00 shelters, rendering over 5,000 Rohingyas homeless. The fear of flooding and fire incidents has compelled around 24,000 refugees to flee their temporary shelters, reported the UNHCR.  

As per estimates of the Inter Sector Coordination Group Daily Incident Reporting, there has been a staggering 180% increase in fire incidents in 2021 with at least 150 such fire incidents reported across refugee camps in Bangladesh.

Rights group Save the Child stated that these makeshift “camps were supposed to be a safe haven for refugees who fled their homes in Myanmar (some five years ago). Fire incidents like these are incredibly distressing for children.” 

A large number of Rohingyas who fled Myanmar in 2017 have been living in congested camps in Bangladesh with strict restrictions on their mobility. Even the United Nations has raised concern about their plight, stressing that their situation has worsened due to the “repeated occurrence of floods and landslides.” There is an immediate need to financially aid the marginalized Rohingyas who continue to suffer in Bangladesh’s refugee camps.