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Fire hits crowded Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh


COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AP) — A massive fire swept through a crowded refugee camp for Rohingya Muslims in southern Bangladesh on Sunday, leaving thousands homeless, a firefighter and the United Nations said.

No casualties were immediately reported at the Balukhali camp in Cox’s Bazar district, said Emdadul Haque, a firefighter official.

Bangladesh’s UNHCR said in a tweet that Rohingya refugee volunteers responded to the blaze, while the agency and its partners provided support. It gave no further details.

More than 1 million Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh in recent decades, including about 740,000 who crossed the border in August 2017 when Myanmar’s military cracked down brutally.

Conditions in Myanmar have worsened since a military takeover in 2021, and attempts to return them have failed.

Last year, the United States said its repression of Rohingya in Myanmar amounts to genocide after US authorities confirmed reports of mass brutality against civilians by the military in a systematic campaign against the ethnic minority. Muslim Rohingya are widely discriminated against in Myanmar, where the majority are Buddhists, where most are denied citizenship and many other rights.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.