A huge fire swept through a Rohingya refugee camp in southern Bangladesh on Monday, destroying thousands of homes and killing several people, officials and witnesses said
The fire at Balukhali camp in Cox’s Bazar district broke out in the late afternoon and spread quickly through at least four blocks. It is the worst blaze to hit the settlement in recent years.
“Fire services, rescue and response teams and volunteers are at the scene to try to control the fire and prevent it spreading further,” said Louise Donovan, spokesperson for UN refugee agency UNHCR in Cox’s Bazar.
Mohammed Shamsud Douza, the deputy Bangladesh government official in charge of refugees, said authorities were trying to control the blaze.
Rohingya refugees in the camps said many homes were burned down and several people had died, but neither the authorities nor the UNHCR could confirm the number of deaths. The cause of the blaze has not been established.
The UNHCR said humanitarian partners had mobilised hundreds of volunteers from nearby camps for the support operation, as well as fire safety vehicles and equipment.
More than a million Rohingya live in the camps in southern Bangladesh, the vast majority having fled Myanmar in 2017 from a military-led crackdown that UN investigators said was executed with “genocidal intent”, charges Myanmar denies.