The United Nations refugee agency says the bodies of 15 people have been recovered in the rubble of a massive fire Monday that destroyed scores of shelters at a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh.
Officials with the UNHCR say at least 400 people are still missing and more than 550 others were injured in the blaze in the southeastern district of Cox’s Bazar. About 45,000 people also have been displaced.
"Teams on the ground say the scale and intensity of this latest fire is unlike anything seen before in the camps,” said UNICEF spokesman James Elder during a press briefing from Geneva.
Relief agencies say barbed-wire fencing that surrounds the refugee camp prevented many of the refugees from escaping the fire and delayed firefighters from arriving in a timely manner.
Jan Egeland, the secretary-general of the Norweigan Refugee Council, called on the government of Bangladesh “to review their decision to fence in these camps, halt all fence construction and find a safer, more humane alternative.”
Cox’s Bazar is home to nearly 1 million Rohingya Muslim refugees, many of whom were forced to flee neighboring Myanmar in 2017 in the face of a scorched-earth military campaign the U.N. says was carried out with genocidal intent, a charge Myanmar denies.