Rohingya camp fire claims 11 lives

Over 9,000 shanties gutted; probe body formed

24 March, 2021 12:00 AM printer

COX’S BAZAR: The bodies of 11 people, including that of three women and two children, were retrieved from the debris after a fire swept through Balukhali Rohingya camp in Ukhiya upazila of Cox’s Bazar district on Monday, reports UNB.

Seven people of the 11 deceased have been identified and their identities will be disclosed later, said Md Mohsin, secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, at a press briefing at the office of Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner in Cox’s Bazar town on Tuesday.

Some 9,300 shanties, 136 learning centres and a police barrack were burnt into ashes, affecting over 45,000 people, he said.

An 8-member probe body, led by Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Shah Rezwan Hayat, was formed to investigate the fire incident, Mohsin said.

The investigation committee will submit its report after three working days.

Earlier, Additional Refugee, Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner Md Samsuddouza said seven firefighting units put the fire under control around 10:00pm on Monday.

Members of the Army, police, APBn, Red Crescent and volunteers joined the   

firefighters and conducted the rescue operation, he added.

Sihab Kaisar, assistant superintendent of APBn-8 police, said a portion of APBn barrack was also damaged in the fire although the arms and other valuables were removed safely from the barrack.

The cause of the fire could not be known yet and the actual reason will be known after investigation, said Gazi Salauddin, officer-in-charge of Ukhiya Police Station.

The fire broke out at Balukhali Rohingya camp No 8 and 9 around 4.30 pm on Monday.

On information, seven firefighting units rushed to the spot and contained the blaze around 10 pm.

Meanwhile, the Rohingya people, who lost their belongings, have taken shelter on Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf highway, said local UP chairman Gafur Uddin.

Unicef has expressed its deepest sympathy for the Rohingyas affected by Monday’s fire in the Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, expressed shock at the loss of lives and immense sufferings caused by the massive fire at the Balukali refugee camp.

Based on provisional reports as of this morning (Tuesday 23 March), 15 refugees are confirmed to have tragically lost their lives in the fire, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

More than 560 have been injured and an estimated 400 people are still missing, the statement added.

In support of the ongoing response led by the Bangladeshi authorities, UNHCR, in coordination with IOM and other UN and NGO partners as well as refugee volunteers, is rushing to provide critical support and protection to some 45,000 Rohingya refugees who lost their shelters and belongings in the devastating blaze.

At least 10,000 shelters are estimated to have been destroyed or damaged, but figures are expected to climb in the coming days as assessments continue. The refugees who have been displaced are being temporarily accommodated within the camp community.

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 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.