On Monday, May 6th, a devastating fire at a Rohingya refugee camp in southeast Bangladesh burned refugee dwellings, leaving roughly 12,000 homeless. The Kutupalong campfire, which started on Sunday afternoon, quickly consumed bamboo and tarpaulin shelters and forced the displacement of Myanmar citizens living in substandard conditions ever since the military crackdown of 2017.
Authorities in Bangladesh are looking into what started a large fire that left Rohingya refugees without a place to stay. There have been no recorded injuries, but according to officials, the fire on Sunday destroyed 2,000 shelters after quickly spreading through cooking gas cylinders. Authorities are looking into whether the fire was intentionally set. According to The Times of India, one individual has been detained.
The camp in the southeast is thought to be the world’s biggest refugee camp. Most of its more than a million Rohingya refugees lived there after fleeing persecution in neighboring Burma.
Although immediate action was taken to tame the flames, which were brought under control within three hours, most of the damage was done by then.
Many residents were rummaging around the affected area, where all that was left were metal supports and charred roofs.
The authorities’ main concern is now that it is a near impossible task to relocate all the 12000 refugees who were already cramped for space in this original camp. It would be difficult to provide essential services to those in other base areas because numerous facilities, including schools and health centers, have been destroyed.
Fires have always been a threat in congested and unsanitary settlements. According to a Bangladeshi defense ministry report published last month, there were 222 fire incidents, including 60 charges of arson, in the Rohingya camps between January 2021 and December 2022. At least 15 individuals were killed, and about 50,000 people were forced to flee their homes in March 2021 after a massive fire ravaged a camp inside the community.