A massive fire broke out at the Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar late on Monday, leaving at least 15 refugees dead. According to the UN refugee agency, an estimated 400 people are still missing, while over 560 were left injured during the incident. The fire has triggered a massive crisis at the refugee camp, which was already suffering from a lack of basic amenities. UNHCR estimate suggests that some 45,000 refugees have been rendered homeless by the fire.
According to reports, Bangladeshi authorities have launched a probe to establish the cause behind the devastating blaze. The United Nations has said that some 10,000 shelters have been destroyed in the fire, but numbers are expected to climb in the coming days as the assessment of damage moves forward. Search for more victims is underway as Bangladeshi authorities, aid workers and Rohingya volunteers continue to look for bodies under the debris.
UNHCR has said that it is working with other aid agencies and the Bangladeshi authorities to provide support and protection to some 45,000 Rohingyas who have been left without shelter. The UN agency has said that it is also working on the re-issuance of refugee registration documents to those who may have lost theirs in the devastating fire.
"With an unknown number of refugees having sustained burn injuries, UNHCR has provided medical supplies through ICRC in support of the management of burn patients. So far, UNHCR has provided some 3,000 blankets, 14,500 solar lamps, 10,400 kitchen sets, and 11,500 mosquito nets. Together with Oxfam, it has also made available emergency water and sanitation assistance, including the construction of 20 emergency latrines, emergency tap stands, water tanks, jerry cans, and water purification tablets. Four water tankers are delivering safe water to areas where those displaced by the fire are congregating," Johannes van der Klaauw, UNHCR Representative in Bangladesh said on Tuesday.
Bangladeshi authorities have said the cause of the fire is still unknown. Bangladesh has been at the receiving end over the treatment of Rohingya refugees at camps in Cox’s Bazar. The camps are often described as unlivable and unhygienic as thousands of people have been forced to live in cramped spaces. According to reports, Bangladeshi authorities have also fenced the camps with barbed wires, which has garnered a lot of criticism from the international community.
According to the United Nations, more than 8,70,000 Rohingya refugees reside in camps at Cox’s Bazar, the majority of whom came flocking into Bangladesh in 2017 after Myanmar’s military began persecuting members of the minority community in Rakhine province. Myanmar, which is a Buddhist majority country, has a long history of persecuting minorities, mainly the Rohingya Muslims.