A large fire outbreak that started in a crowded Rohingya refugee camp in southeast Bangladesh has left thousands of people without a place to stay.
At the Cox’s Bazar camp, where the fire started on Sunday, about 2,000 shelters were destroyed.
In order to see what they can salvage from the ruins, hundreds of people have now returned to the area.
Around 12,000 people are thought to be homeless right now; the majority of them fled the violence in the neighbouring country of Myanmar.
There have been no reported casualties, and the cause of the fire is still unknown.
According to an official, the fire broke out at around 14:45 local time (08:45 GMT) and quickly destroyed the bamboo and tarpaulin shelters.
“Some 2,000 shelters have been burnt, leaving about 12,000 forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals shelterless,” Mijanur Rahman, Bangladesh’s refugee commissioner, told AFP news agency.
Within three hours, the fire was put out, but at least 35 mosques and 21 refugee learning centres perished in the process, he added.
Photos that display the extent of the destruction are now starting to surface.
Many of the residents can be seen searching through the burned area, where all that is left are metal struts and singed corrugated roofing.
The camp had suffered “massive damage,” according to Hrusikesh Harichandan of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, who spoke to the BBC.
He claimed that fundamental services like water treatment facilities and testing labs had also been impacted.
“My shelter was gutted. [My shop] was also burnt,” Mamun Johar, a 30-year-old Rohingya man, told AFP.
“The fire took everything from me, everything.”
Over a million Rohingya refugees are housed in Camp 11, one of many camps spread throughout the border district.
Due to their slum and overcrowding, the camps are prone to fire.
According to a Bangladeshi defence ministry report published last month, there were 222 fire incidents, including 60 cases of arson, in the Rohingya camps between January 2021 and December 2022.
At least 15 people were killed and about 50,000 people were forced to flee their homes in March 2021 after a massive fire ruined a camp inside the settlement.
The allegedly largest refugee camp in the world is home to people who fled Myanmar after the military cracked down on the Rohingya ethnic minority.
The Rohingya are Muslims who live in Myanmar, which is primarily Buddhist, and have long been persecuted.
In August 2017, after Myanmar’s military brutally retaliated after a Rohingya insurgent group attacked several police posts, the most recent exodus of Rohingya fled to Bangladesh.