A spokesman for the Armed Police Battalion, Kamran Hossain, said that the fire broke out at Camp 16 in Cox’s Bazar, where more than a million Rohingya refugees live.
Hossain asserted that about 1,200 houses were reportedly engulfed in flames, displacing over 5,000 people, but there have been no reports of casualties so far.
“The fire started at 4:40 p.m. and was brought under control at around 6:30 p.m.,” Hossain told reporters, The National News reported.
Mohamad Shamsud Douza, a Bangladesh government official in charge of refugees, said emergency workers had brought the fire under control, but the cause of the blaze has not been established.
“Everything is gone. Many are without homes,” said Abu Taher, a Rohingya refugee.
The Rohingya refugees came from Burma, also known as Myanmar, and have been denied citizenship since a Burmese citizenship law was enacted in 1982. The United Nations said more than 700,000 Rohingya people fled to Bangladesh due to a military clampdown in 2017.
Another fire ripped through a COVID-19 treatment center for refugees sheltering in Bangladesh on Jan. 2. The U.N. migration agency IOM said in a Twitter post that no casualties were reported as a result of the fire, but some parts of the hospital were “badly damaged.”
“IOM and partners have worked hard to put out the fire and assist those in need,” the agency said.
A similar incident occurred last March in Bangladesh, when a massive fire ripped through a Rohingya refugee camp, killing at least 15 people and injuring 560 others. A U.N. official said that “around 45,000 people have been displaced, and approximately 10,000 shelters damaged or destroyed” as a result of the fire.
Meanwhile, over 3,000 Rohingya businesses in Bangladesh were demolished by the authorities last month following an increase in the country’s Rohingya population and the shops’ illegal operation. Douza said that authorities were building sheds on the premises where the illegal shops were located as “the number of Rohingya is increasing.”
Human rights groups had previously accused Bangladeshi authorities of forcing hundreds of Rohingya refugees to relocate to a remote island in the Bay of Bengal. Douza denied this, claiming that all 379 refugees “voluntarily” chose to relocate to Bashan Char Island in search of “a better and more secure life.”
Reuters contributed to this report.