DHAKA: After a devastating fire burned down thousands of shelters at a Rohingya refugee camp in southern Bangladesh, searchers recovered at least 15 charred bodies while at least 400 people are still missing and around 560 are injured by the fire.
According to reports, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that the fire, which erupted Monday afternoon and lasted well into the night, displaced around 45,000 people.
A refugee said, “My children went to the Islamic school before the fire began. After they returned, I didn’t see them. Two of my older children have been found, but my youngest son has yet to be untraced.”
Nizam Uddin Ahmed, the top government official in Ukhiya, a sub-region of the Cox’s Bazar district where the camp is located said that at least three of the dead were children, and the search for victims was still underway.
More than a million Rohingya Muslims have sought refuge in Bangladesh’s overcrowded refugee camps, the large majority of whom fled Myanmar in 2017 amid a military crackdown. The United Nations has charged Myanmar with genocidal intent, which Myanmar denies.
Bangladesh is keen to return refugees to Buddhist-majority Myanmar. Several attempts to bring the Rohingya back under a joint agreement have failed because the Rohingya refused to leave, fearing more violence in a country that deprives them of basic rights such as citizenship.
These concerns have only grown since Myanmar’s civilian government was deposed by a military coup last month, as well as the ongoing crackdown on opponents of the military takeover.
Another fire in the camp in January destroyed hundreds of shanty-style homes, displacing thousands of people.
The Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, according to the Danish Refugee Council, are the world’s largest refugee complex, with 27,000 people affecting by Monday’s fire.
According to a United Nations World Food Program situation report, the fire affected up to 87,855 people, with many seeking refuge in nearby camps, friends’ shelters, learning centres, or temporary transit sites.
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