By Md. Kamruzzaman and SM Najmus Sakib, Anadolu Agency
Islamic seminary, 3 tents gutted in 3rd such incident since March 22
A fire broke out at a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh on Monday for the third time in three weeks, according to official and local sources.
“Four tents, including a madrassah [Islamic seminary] have been gutted,” Khin Maung, a Rohingya youth leader, told Anadolu Agency. “Our people were able to control the blaze before it spread,” he added.
Earlier, on March 22, a major fire killed at least 15 Rohingyas and destroyed over 10,000 shanties. Another fire broke out at a market in a refugee camp on April 2, killing three members of the persecuted community and destroying seven shops.
And exactly after 10 days, the third fire broke out at the camps in the southern Cox’s Bazar district, with no injuries caused.
“The fire was managed by our two units, as well as Rohingya refugees,” Emdadul Haque, a local Fire Service and Civil Defense station officer, told Anadolu Agency. He added that the Rohingya people are “very agitated.”
The Rohingya refugees became enraged and forced the firefighters to leave the scene before the incident could be investigated further, Haque added.
However, Maung stated that the refugees’ anger is natural, as they are worried about their safety and security in the camps due to frequent fires.
“There have been no investigation findings on the causes of two previous fire accidents,” the skeptical youth leader said, adding that it may be a “political game on us.”
The furious leader questioned the authorities, asking: “Why are they taking so long to figure out what caused the fire and who is responsible for these incidents?”
Maung urged the authorities to launch a thorough and impartial investigation into the repeated incidents at Rohingya refugee camps.
More than 1.2 million Rohingya who mostly fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August 2017 are currently living in the crammed makeshift camps in Bangladesh.
In mid-January, another deadly fire burned down more than 500 Rohingya shanties, while dozens of minor fire incidents have taken place in the last three years after the mass exodus of Rohingya from their homeland.
S. M. Ishtiaque Shahriar, senior assistant secretary at the Office of Bangladeshi Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission, told Anadolu Agency that their field officials responded immediately with the fire extinguisher and other equipment, and joined hands with refugees and firefighter officials.
He admitted the anger of refugees following the incident of fire on Monday.
“Communalities [refugees] here started blaming each other for the incident. We always provide prompt responses and there is no room for negligence from our side,” he said. Some refugees suspect that a quarter is allegedly behind the recent fire incidents, he added.