The United Nations confirmed on Tuesday that at least 15 people had died in a major fire at a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh the day before, while a local NGO said it was looking for more. 100 children are missing.
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said hundreds of refugees were injured and tens of thousands more left homeless after a fire swept through the densely populated Balukhali camp in Cox’s Bazar district, southeast before it was put out. turned off on Monday, UNHCR, the UN refugee agency said.
“[Fifteen] The refugees were confirmed dead catastrophically in the fire. More than 560 people have been injured and an estimated 400 are still missing, ”said Johannes van der Klaauw, UNHCR’s representative in Dhaka, during a press conference in Geneva, according to a statement from the agency.
The fire destroyed 10,000 temporary homes and left 45,000 refugees homeless, he said.
Bangladeshi officials confirmed 11 people were killed and said they were looking for children reported missing after the fire, which took the firefighters eight hours to put them down.
“We handed over recovered bodies to the police. We are receiving reports of missing children from Rohingya camp leaders. We are taking rescue operations very seriously and locals are helping us, ”Hossain told BenarNews, an online news service at RFA.
Officials said the cause of the fire has yet to be determined. The Bangladeshi government has set up an eight-member investigation committee to investigate the cause.
BRAC, the largest NGO in Bangladesh, said it launched an operation to help find missing refugee children.
“Families have reported 150 missing children. So far, we have found the three children and delivered them to their respective families after proper identification, ”Sohel Rana, an official employee of a BRAC booth at the camp, told BenarNews.
“We have over a hundred workers looking for the kids. We are working hard to find 10 to 18 year olds, ”he said.
Officials say the worst fire in four years hit one of the refugee camps around Cox’s Bazar, where 1 million Rohingya are hiding. These include more than 740,000 people who fled a brutal military crackdown in neighboring Myanmar in 2017.
“We lost everything. I am here with our one-year-old boy and three-year-old girl, sitting in the scorching sun. My husband has been missing since yesterday. The children are crying for food, ”Dilankis Begum, one of the refugees withdrewing from the shelter, told BenarNews.
Barbed steel Fench
The blaze was blown off Monday after it broke out in the afternoon, government officials said.
According to international NGOs and other humanitarian groups, international NGOs and other humanitarian groups have urged Bangladesh to dismantle the almost fully built fence surrounding the refugee camps. crowding and crowding.
Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), said the Bangladeshi government had to immediately stop work on the fence.
“This tragic event could be less catastrophic if a barbed wire fence is not erected around the camps. The NRC staff had heard horrifying stories from the refugees about how they tried to cut the wire fence to save their families, escape the fire and get to safety, ”Egeland wrote on Twitter.
“We urge the Bangladeshi Government to reconsider its decision to fencing these camps, suspend future fencing activities and find a safer, more humane alternative.” .
In another message posted on Twitter, Matthew Smith, co-founder of Fortify Rights, a NGO that works closely with Rohingya refugees, said “those same barriers may have caused Refugees pay the price in today’s terrible fire ”.
Refugees International, another NGO, says barbed wire fences are especially difficult for children.
The group said in a statement late on Monday: “Many children are missing and some are unable to escape because barbed wire fences were erected in the camps.
In January, Bangladeshi officials said the government’s installation of barbed-wire fences around Rohingya camps – to detain stateless refugees from Myanmar who arrived at their settlement in Cox’s Bazar – had is almost complete and will be completed by June.
The barbed wire fence will keep the Rohingya safe and secure and will also prevent their “criminal activities”, Interior Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told BenarNews last month.
Satellite images show the devastation caused by a massive fire sweeping through the Rohingya refugee camp at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. The UN refugee agency said on Tuesday at least 15 people died in the fire and at least 400 are still missing. Hundreds more were injured and about 45,000 people were displaced. They are among about 1 million minority Rohingya Muslims who have fled neighboring Myanmar, most of them to escape a brutal military crackdown in 2017. Photos by Planet Labs Inc . taken on November 12, 2020, and March 23, 2021, the day after the fire.
‘Relive the destruction experienced in Myanmar’
After Tuesday’s fire, refugees could be seen crying and scavenging for any possessions that could have been left from the fire.
“Ammuni, my 6-year-old sister is dead. She ran to my dad-in-law’s room and got stuck, ”Nur Kamal told BenarNews as tears rolled down her face.
Others talk about missing families and neighbors.
“Forty people in our block are missing. Food, water and shelter are all scarce, ”Rohingya leader Sultan Ahmad told BenarNews.
A young Rohingya boy standing in front of a part of the refugee camp was burned down during Monday’s major fire at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, March 23, 2021. [Abdur Rahman/BenarNews]
A refugee from the camp told Refugees International that “the tragedy of the fire is like reminiscing the devastation the Rohingya experienced in Myanmar in 2017”.
Sanjeev Kumar Kafley, head of Bangladesh’s International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, also spoke of the seemingly endless misery facing Rohingya refugees.
“This is a terrible blow for some of the most resilient people on Earth. Many people fled to Bangladesh after their homes burned down. After establishing a new life, thousands are now facing more difficulties and uncertainties, ”Kafley said in a statement Tuesday.
Reported by BenarNews, an online news service affiliated with RFA.