Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh:
An enormous hearth that swept by elements of the world’s greatest refugee camp in Bangladesh has claimed a minimum of seven lives and destroyed the shanty houses of tens of hundreds of Rohingya who fled a brutal military-led offensive in neighbouring Myanmar.
Nearly a million of the persecuted Muslim minority — a lot of whom escaped a 2017 crackdown that UN investigators concluded was executed with “genocidal intent” — stay in squalid circumstances on the camps in southeastern Cox’s Bazar district.
The hearth broke out Monday and left a minimum of 50,000 folks homeless because it ripped by their flimsy bamboo-and-tarpaulin shelters, in response to police and support teams. Terrified households fled with no matter they might carry.
It was simply the newest blaze in current weeks — and the largest since 2017. Bangladesh has ordered a probe.
“People ran for their lives as it spread fast. Many were injured and I saw at least four bodies,” mentioned Aminul Haq, a refugee.
Disaster administration and aid official Mohsin Chowdhury put the dying toll at seven.
Officials mentioned the blaze appeared to have began in one of many 34 camps — which span about 8,000 acres (3,200 hectares) of land — earlier than spreading quickly to 3 different websites regardless of determined efforts to place out the flames.
Thick columns of smoke might be seen billowing from blazing shanties in video shared on social media, as a whole bunch of firefighters and support employees pulled refugees to security.
Firefighters lastly introduced the blaze below management round midnight.
Unable to flee
Police inspector Gazi Salahuddin mentioned the hearth grew after fuel cylinders used for cooking exploded.
Mohammad Yasin, a Rohingya serving to with the firefight, informed AFP the blaze raged for greater than 10 hours and was the worst he had seen.
A volunteer for Save the Children, Tayeba Begum, mentioned “children were running, crying for their families”.
Refugees International mentioned in an announcement: “Many children are missing, and some were unable to flee because of barbed-wire set up in the camps.”
This was echoed by Myo Min Khan, a Rohingya, who wrote on Facebook: “We were unable to flee because of the fence, my youngest daughter got injured badly.”
AFP was not independently in a position to confirm the claims in regards to the fence.
Police rejected the accusation, saying solely a tiny a part of the camp was fenced.
“This tragedy is an awful reminder of the vulnerable position of Rohingya refugees who are caught between increasingly precarious conditions in Bangladesh and the reality of a homeland now ruled by the military responsible for the genocide that forced them to flee,” Refugees International mentioned.
Third in 4 days
It was the third blaze to hit the camps in 4 days, hearth brigade official Sikder, who solely goes by one identify, informed AFP.
Two separate fires on the camps on Friday destroyed scores of shelters, officers mentioned then.
Sikder mentioned the reason for the blaze was not but identified.
Two huge fires had additionally hit the camps in January, leaving hundreds homeless and gutting 4 UNICEF faculties.
Amnesty International’s South Asia campaigner, Saad Hammadi, tweeted that the “frequency of fire in the camps is too coincidental, especially when outcomes of previous investigations into the incidents are not known and they keep repeating”.
Rohingya chief Sayed Ullah demanded a direct probe. “It is not clear why these fire incidents are happening repeatedly in the camps. It needs proper and complete investigation,” he mentioned.
The authorities has in the meantime been pushing for the refugees to be relocated to a distant island within the Bay of Bengal, saying the settlements had been too crowded.
So far, 13,000 Rohingya have been moved to the flood-prone island, which critics say can be within the path of lethal cyclones.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by LiveNews360 employees and is revealed from a syndicated feed.)