Authorities say more than 5,000 people lost their homes after the bamboo and tarpaulin shelters erupted in flames.
Police say thousands of Rohingya have been left homeless after a fire destroyed parts of their refugee camp in southeastern Bangladesh.
About 850,000 of the persecuted Muslim-majority minority, many of whom fled a 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar that UN investigators concluded was carried out with “genocidal intent”, live in a network of camps in Bangladesh’s border region of Cox’s Bazar.
“About 1,200 houses were burned in the fire,” Kamran Hussein, a spokesman for the armed police battalion that heads security in the camp, said on Sunday.
He said the fire started in Camp 16 and spread through bamboo and tarpaulin shelters, displacing more than 5,000 people.
The fire started at 4:40 pm [10:40 GMT] He told the French news agency “AFP”.
Muhammad Shamsud Doza, a Bangladeshi government official in charge of refugee affairs, said emergency workers had brought the fire under control. He added that the cause of the fire had not been determined.
I lost my dream
Abdul Rashid, 22, said the fire was so big that he ran for safety as his house and furniture caught fire.
“Everything in my house was on fire. My child and my wife were outside. The house was a lot of things,” he told AFP.
Saved 30 thousand taka [350 dollars] of daily work. Money burned in the fire.”
“I am now under an open sky. I have lost my dream.”
In March last year, 15 people were killed and about 50,000 displaced in Bangladesh after a massive fire destroyed Rohingya homes in the world’s largest refugee settlement.
Muhammad Yassin, 29, lamented the lack of fire safety equipment in the camps.
There was no way to put out the fire. There was no water. My house was burnt. Many documents, which I brought from Myanmar, were also burned. It is cold here,” he said.
Another fire occurred at a COVID-19 treatment center for refugees in another refugee camp in the area last Sunday, causing no injuries.
Bangladesh has been praised for taking in refugees who fled across the border from Myanmar, but has had little success in finding permanent homes for them.
Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have sailed for years to countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia to seek refuge.
Last month, Indonesia allowed a boat full of Rohingya refugees, stranded off its coast, to dock after calls from aid organizations to allow the ship to seek asylum.