Charred hopes: The crisis of fires in the Rohingya refugee camps

Preventing future fires and ensuring community security requires bold action by the Bangladesh authorities and the responsible UN agencies, a Rohingya humanitarian worker and activist writes

On January 7, just after midnight, my entire family was abruptly awakened by our Imam’s warnings of a fire, called out from the mosque’s loudspeaker. 

Alarmed, we rushed outside. Massive flames lit up the night sky in the Bangladesh refugee camps, as if dawn was breaking.  

The fire was in nearby Camp-5, the Imam said. 

“Be ready to flee,” he announced, as the blaze made its way closer to us. 

We spent the rest of the night awake, feeling exhausted and helpless.

In the morning, I visited the affected area and saw that the destruction stretched for kilometres. The United Nations (UN) estimated that the fire destroyed nearly 900 shelters and countless other public amenities, including schools, mosques, and healthcare facilities. More than 800 families were displaced in the disaster. . . .

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