Investigators say the fire that engulfed the world’s largest refugee camp last week was a “planned and purposeful act of vandalism”.
The fire that broke out on March 5 in Bangladesh has left 15,000 Rohingya refugees homeless and destroyed some 2,800 shelters.
The government official leading the investigation said militant groups had started the fire to “take control” of the camps.
Abu Safyan said that the fires broke out in several places at once, which proves that they were planned.
There were no injuries. But the fires engulfed homes and destroyed key infrastructure networks – schools, medical clinics and service points – in several areas of Cox’s Bazar camp.
It recommended further investigation to determine who was responsible for the accident.
The fire broke out at 14:30 local time (08:30 GMT) in Camp 11 in Cox’s Bazar in southeastern Bangladesh and was brought under control by evening, the report said.
Cox’s Bazar is home to more than a million refugees who have fled Myanmar following a military crackdown on the Rohingya ethnic minority.
They live in huts made of bamboo and thin plastic sheeting. These refugee camps are overcrowded and dirty, and they are prone to fires. Initial reports from the Cox’s Bazar fire indicated that the fire also spread rapidly through the gas stoves common in campsites.
Between January 2021 and December 2022, there were 222 fires in the Rohingya camps, including 60 fire cases, according to a Bangladesh Defense Ministry report released last month.
In March 2021, at least 15 people were killed and about 50,000 displaced after a massive fire in one of the camps in the settlement.
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