Wednesday, April 26, 2017
The Myanmar Times
The Myanmar Times

Fire sweeps through Rohingya IDP camp

UPDATED STORY: Fire sweeps through Sittwe IDP camp

As many as 2000 displaced Muslims have lost their shelters after a fire swept through the Baw Du Ba 2 IDP camp near the Rakhine State capital of Sittwe this morning, according to aid workers.

The fire broke out at 9:00am this morning in a row of longhouse shelters, destroying the homes of up to 2000 residents of the IDP camp. Photos: Facebook / Arakan TimesThe fire broke out at 9:00am this morning in a row of longhouse shelters, destroying the homes of up to 2000 residents of the IDP camp. Photos: Facebook / Arakan Times

The fire, possibly caused by a cooking accident, destroyed nearly 50 longhouses, each home to six to eight families, aid workers said, citing preliminary estimates. The camp is also known as Baw Du Pha and lies just west of Sittwe, close to the coast.

Some injuries were reported but they were not believed to be serious. It was not immediately clear how many people had been caught in the blaze that ripped through the flimsy structures.

Firemen were said to have arrived fairly promptly to extinguish the blaze.

A longhouse buckles under the flamesA longhouse buckles under the flames

“About 2000 people are affected. They will have no roofs over their heads tonight,” said one aid worker who asked not to be named. International and local aid organisations are on the scene assessing the response needed.

Matthew Smith, director of rights group Fortify Rights, tweeted that that about 500 Rohingya families could have been made homeless and that the shelters burned down with 45 minutes. This would have left little time for camp residents to rescue their meagre belongings and food supplies.

The camp is home mostly to stateless Muslim Rohingya – officially called Bengalis by the authorities – displaced by communal violence that erupted in Rakhine State in 2012.

Rights groups have urged the Myanmar government to facilitate the right to return of some 120,000 Muslims confined to dozens of IDP camps, where conditions have been frequently condemned by the United Nations and other organisations.


This story is developing and will be updated as more information is available.