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Fire destroys Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh

Barbed Wire Hinders Escape as Massive Fire Destroys Rohingya Refugee Camp 11, Leaving Thousands Homeless

The destruction of the camp has once again highlighted the urgent need for a long-term solution to the Rohingya crisis.

Rohingya Refugee News

March 5, 2023

Charred remains of Refugee Camp 11, showing barbed wire fencing that hindered escapes credit: Ajmeer

A massive fire has engulfed Rohingya refugee camp 11 (Balukhali 2) in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, leaving thousands of people homeless and without shelter. The fire broke around 2.30pm, sending a huge black plume of smoke into the air and causing panic among the camp's residents.

According to reports in the Dhaka Tribune, the fire destroyed around 2000 shelters, leaving around 12,000 refugees with no place to go. The situation has been further compounded by the barbed wire surrounding the camp, which hindered the exit of the Rohingya refugees.

In a desperate bid to escape the raging inferno that engulfed their homes, Rohingya refugees tore down sections of the barbed wire fencing or created holes to create a pathway to safety. These poignant images were taken on a mobile phone by photographer Ajmeer.

People had to smash the barbed wire fencing to facilitate exit. Image by Ajmeer

The barbed wire fencing was removed by the refugees, allowing for a clearer path to safety. Image by Ajmeer

"I never thought I would experience my house being burned again. But now, five and a half years after I fled Myanmar, I have again lost everything," expressed Sulaiman, a Rohingya resident who had previously lost his home in the Tula Toli massacre in 2017. The devastation of this latest fire has left Sulaiman and many others with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

"A lot of people could not bring out their possessions because the barbed wire fencing made it necessary for them to take a longer route," Sulaiman added, highlighting how the fencing had further complicated an already treacherous situation.

Image of the remains of Sulaiman’s shelter. Credit: Ajmeer

As of now, the cause of the fire that ravaged the Camp 11 or Balukhali 2 remains unknown, and there have been no confirmed reports of casualties. However, the devastating destruction of the camp has left thousands of refugees exposed to the harsh elements, leaving them in dire need of urgent assistance.

The pressing question now is whether the Bangladeshi authorities will launch an investigation into the cause of the fire and take necessary steps to prevent similar tragedies in the future. Will they also consider removing the barbed wire fencing? In the meantime, it is crucial that the international community rallies together to provide immediate support and aid to those affected by this heartbreaking disaster.

Copyright 2023 Rohingya Refugee News

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