A fire destroyed over 50 homes in a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in western Burma’s Arakan State today.
According to local authorities, the blaze was caused by a cooking accident in one of the homes in the Bawdupha 2 camp located near Sittwe, the state capital.
“From what we have learnt, a resident of room no.4 in building no.1 left a kitchen stove unattended and went out, causing the fire,” said Win Naung, the chief of Sittwe district police.
The fire was sparked in the morning at around 9am and firefighters extinguished the blaze by noon. So far, the authorities have recorded 55 buildings that were destroyed by the blaze. The buildings were used as living spaces for families and a number of shop stalls.
Win Naung said the damage from the fire is still being assessed, but added that there have been no reported cases of casualties.
The Bawdupha 2 camp is one of eight camps housing thousands of Rohingya Muslims displaced by communal violence that broke out between Rohingyas and Arakanese Buddhists in 2012.
According to Matthew Smith, the director of Fortify Rights, a rights group that has focused on discrimination against the Rohingya in Burma, today’s fire spread rapidly, destroying 50 shelters within 45 minutes.
Rights groups have urged the government to improve conditions in Arakan State’s IDP camps, where more than 100,000 Rohingyas face strict travel restrictions and limited access to basic health care and other necessities.
On 19 April, at least 21 Rohingyas died when a boat carrying them into Sittwe from the Sin Tet Maw camp in Pauktaw Township capsized.