The fire engulfed schools, hospitals and the homes of thousands of vulnerable Rohingya refugees. An employee of Amnesty International in South Asia now fears the fire may have started.
– Several hundred are still missing. We know that about 15 people lost their lives. Hundreds of children have been displaced from their families.
U.S. Bernard Wiseman (32) VG in charge of MSF projects at the Cox’s Bazar camp in Bangladesh.
This week he saw that large parts of the refugee camp had been extinguished by a large fire and the frustration that followed.
Background: Great fire in a refugee camp in Bangladesh
– Now thousands of people have no place to live. Many of the refugees from the camp are reported to be sleeping on the roads without a roof over their heads, Wiseman says.
The fire on Monday is said to be the worst in the camp since 2017. The fire was raging for almost ten hours. UN More than 50,000 Rohingya refugees are homeless and at least 400 are missing.
In addition, four UNICEF schools were destroyed. Several MSF hospitals and health services were also taken by fire.
– Many of our clinics in the camp are now burned down, so I’m worried that people have lost important health facilities, Wiseman says.
– A sign of how complicated it is
More than a million Rohingya Muslims live in slender and flammable buildings in large camps 300 kilometers from the capital Dhaka. Nearly 750,000 of them crossed the border when the military attacked them in Myanmar in 2017.
The refugees in Cox’s Bazar are divided into 34 camps, at least four of which are now completely destroyed.
Weissman worries that this will not be the last fire they have seen.
– We’ve been on fire here before, but I’ve never seen anything like it. The problem is that even a small kitchen fire is dangerous due to the miserable living conditions and infrastructure in the camp, he explains.
– Fire emphasizes the need for better facilities and is an indication of how complex it is here. The camp is described as temporary, but there are no plans to improve conditions for the thousands of people who live here, the project manager continues.
The fire was third in the camps in four days. Wiseman told VG that people in the refugee camp were becoming increasingly frustrated, which had recently led to an increase in violence.
Fear expelled the fire
– The fire is another blow to the Rohingya refugees living here. The fire risk is greatest in these dense and crowded areas, save children after the fire.
Tayeba Begum, one of the organization’s aid workers, said people were screaming in all directions, including children calling for their families.
The cause of the fire is not yet known, but an employee of Amnesty International in South Asia says it may have been started.
“The frequency of fires in the camps is very random, especially when the results of previous investigations into the incidents are not known and it keeps recurring,” Chad Hammadi wrote on Twitter.
In recent months, Bangladeshi authorities have tried to force refugees to move to a remote island in the Bay of Bengal, but many are reluctant to do so as they are more vulnerable to hurricanes and floods. So far, 13,000 Rohingya have migrated to the island.