Major fire in Rohingya camp: 400 missing, 45,000 homeless


Status: 23.03.2021 8:01 p.m.

One day after the devastating fire in a refugee camp in Bangladesh, the helpers were faced with a disastrous picture. Several people died, hundreds were injured, tens of thousands are homeless.

By Bernd Musch-Borowska,
ARD studio New Delhi

Charred trees and burned out huts as far as the eye can see: The major fire in a refugee camp for Rohingya in southern Bangladesh destroyed thousands of barracks and huts, as was shown on footage from the AP news agency.

Desperate people search for their loved ones in the rubble. Shappuni, a young mother, sits exhausted by the roadside and misses her little boy: “Yesterday, before the fire broke out, my children went to the Koran school. I didn’t see them after that,” she says. “I have since found my two older ones, but my youngest son has disappeared.”

“We have never seen anything like it”

It was the third fire in one of the Rohingya refugee camps this year, but none has been so severe, said the head of the UN refugee agency UNHCR in Bangladesh, Johannes van der Klaauw. “It was bad, we have never seen anything like it. So far, 15 deaths have been confirmed, 560 people are injured and more than 400 are still missing,” reports Klaauw.

At least 10,000 huts were completely destroyed, which means that at least 45,000 people no longer have a roof over their heads. New accommodation would have to be found for them.

The fire broke out yesterday afternoon in a section of the huge refugee camp and had spread quickly. The fire brigades were on duty together with soldiers, police officers and employees from various aid organizations until late at night.

UN staff report terrible scenes

The full extent of the damage cannot yet be estimated, said Tomson Phiri, spokesman for the UN World Food Program WFP, in an interview with the Reuters news agency.

But his employees on site reported terrible scenes and desperation of the people affected. “Just imagine what it is like when someone had to flee their home country three or four years ago and has lost everything in the process and now has to watch that little bit of what they have and what they have built up goes up in flames” says Phiri.

The refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar is one of the largest in the world, it houses around 850,000 people. A total of around one million Rohingya from neighboring Myanmar live in Bangladesh. Most of them had fled their homes in the summer of 2017 because of violence and human rights abuses by the Myanmar armed forces.

Bangladesh: dead and missing after fire in refugee camp

Bernd Musch-Borowska, ARD New Delhi, March 23, 2021 6:53 p.m.

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Major fire Rohingya camp missing homeless


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