According to Burma Task Force Staff on the ground, a massive fire swept through parts of Camp 24 (Leda Camp) which is located on government-owned land in Nhilla Union of the Teknaf sub-district in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The camp is host to over 15,000 Rohingya refugees. Nearly 100 shelters housing families three educational centers (Madrasas) and two Mosques were totally burned down to the ground. Many additional shelters adjacent to the fire area were destroyed to prevent the spread of fire throughout the densely populated camp. While there have been no reported deaths or injuries as a result of the deadly blaze, more than a thousand refugees and their families have been affected and displaced by the fire whose cause is undetermined.
Bangladesh’s refugee camps are home to about 1 million Rohingya, including about 740,000 who were forced to flee their homes in Burma/Myanmar after a brutal military crackdown in Rakhine state in August 2017, escaping what the United Nations has described as genocidal violence and ethnic cleansing that follows decades of persecution and human rights abuses and are now forced to live in sub standard conditions in the world’s largest and most densely populated refugee camps where about half of the refugees are children.
Imam Saffet Catovic, Director of United Nations Operations for Justice For All, observed, “Al-hamdulillah – Praise God – that this blazing fire did not result in death, but has devastated the lives of over 1,000 of our siblings in Faith and humanity and their families. The continuation of the present deteriorating situation in the camps for the refugees can not continue for much longer. In the near term, the international community needs to step up to its responsibility by addressing the funding crisis shortfall facing Rohingya refugees that is resulting in deepening aid shortages and lack of safe, sanitary and secure shelters and growing unrest in the densely populated sprawling camps that is exacerbated by increasing criminal gang violence.
In the longer view, Justice For All supports the calls made by UN Human Rights Chief, Volker Turk and others to enable the voluntary and safe return of the Rohingya to the ancestral homes, securely, that they were forced to flee with full respect for their dignity and human rights protections as full and equal citizens of Burma/Myanmar.
In addition, JFA has also called upon Congress and the White House to provide for the fast track processing of 10,000 of the most vulnerable Rohingya refugees for resettlement in USA.
“We have been meeting with the State department and Congressional offices and expect that the coming year will see more Rohingya being welcomed on our shores,” Hena Zuberi, Justice For All’s Director of DC Operations.
JFA through its Burma Task Force (BTF) , a coalition of 38 US and Canadian Muslim organizations, has been advocating for the Rohingya and ending the genocide in Burma since 2012.