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A massive fire tore through a crowded Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh

Mahmud Hossain Opu/AP
Rohingya refugees try to salvage their belongings after a major fire in their Balukhali camp at Ukhiya in Cox's Bazar district, Bangladesh, on March 5, 2023.

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh — A massive fire raced through a crammed refugee camp for Rohingya Muslims in southern Bangladesh on Sunday, leaving thousands homeless, a fire official and the United Nations said.

No casualties were reported immediately at Balukhali camp in Cox's Bazar district, said Emdadul Haque, a fire service official.

The UNHCR in Bangladesh said in a tweet that Rohingya refugee volunteers were responding to the fire with the agency and its partners providing support. It provided no further details.

More than 1 million Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar over several decades, including about 740,000 who crossed the border starting in August 2017, when the Myanmar military launched a brutal crackdown.

Conditions in Myanmar have worsened since a military takeover in 2021, and attempts to send back the refugees have failed.

Last year, the United States said the oppression of Rohingya in Myanmar amounts to genocide after U.S. authorities confirmed accounts of mass atrocities against civilians by the military in a systematic campaign against the ethnic minority. Muslim Rohingya face widespread discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where most are denied citizenship and many other rights.

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