Fire at Arakan State IDP Camp Leaves Hundreds Homeless

By Lawi Weng 3 May 2016

RANGOON — A fire near Arakan State’s Sittwe Township left hundreds of Rohingya Muslims homeless as it swept through dozens of shelters at the Baw Du Ba internally displaced person (IDP) camp on Tuesday, local sources said.

Kyaw Thein, an IDP at the camp, told The Irrawaddy over the phone that the fire was likely caused by a cooking accident in one of the longhouses at around 9am and then spread to surrounding areas until firefighters were able to extinguish the flames about 90 minutes later.

“A total of 392 families stayed in the 49 longhouses. We don’t yet know the exact population [of the camp],” said Kyaw Thein, who added that some people were wounded in the fire.

Camp authorities and local UN agencies offered medical treatment to those who were injured and collected the names of people who lost their homes in the fire, who will meanwhile be forced to take shelter with other IDPs at the camp, according to local sources.

Despite rumors that the fire claimed the lives of some children, Aung Win, an eyewitness, said there had been no official confirmation of these claims.

Some 10,000 IDPs, most members of the Rohingya minority, live at Baw Du Ba camp, which was established shortly after violence flared between Arakanese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Arakan State in 2012. More than 100,000 Rohingya IDPs are estimated to be living in Arakan State camps like Baw Du Ba, enduring conditions frequently condemned by aid organizations.