Fire burns through Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh


March 22 (UPI) — A fire spread through the Balukhali Rohingya refugee camp at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh on Monday, aided by strong winds.Authorities said shanties were heavily damaged in the densely-populated camp in the Ukhiya subdistrict.

“Firefighters are at the scene,” Atiqur Rahman, chief of the Cox’s Bazar-based 14th Armed Police Battalion, told the Dhaka Tribune. “We do not know how it started.”

The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society reported the caused significant damage.

“Fire incident finally coming under control in the camps after destroying a large area of shelters and facilities,” the organization said.

Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said on Twitter that government, U.N. and non-governmental organization response teams were working to stop the fire and limit damage.

The charity Save Our Children said more than 80,000 people live in the camp and the fire was moving fast.

“This is the second big fire to tear through the camps this year, and it is the largest yet,” Onno Van Manen, country director of Save the Children in Bangladesh, said in a statement. “It is another devastating blow to the Rohingya refugees who live here.”

Van Manen said children in the camp could be hurt the most because the fire likely damaged their homes, learning centers and “child-friendly spaces.”

“We are also concerned with the mental health impacts of experiencing such a traumatic event,” Van Manen said.

The refugees are at the camp after fleeing violence in Myanmar.