Massive Fire Scorches Rohingya Refugee Camp in India

“We lost everything. The fire destroyed even the little cash that we had kept for our daily needs. We don’t have a single [Indian] rupee to buy water,” said one of the Rohingyas whose refugee camp in Madanpur, Khadar, Indian, caught fire.

Rohingya refugee camp
Illustration. The burning Rohingya refugee camp. (Special Document)

ACTNews, NEW DELHI – Another disaster is experienced by Rohingya Muslims who live in refugee camps in the Madanpur Khadar area, New Delhi, India. The camp, which contains simple tents made of wood and tarpaulin, experienced a severe fire on Saturday (6/12/2021) at around 11.30 p.m local time.

One of the refugees, Sufia Khatoon (32) said she was asleep inside her hut along with her physically challenged mother and her child when the fire broke out. It started in an abandoned hut, she said.

“When we saw the fire, I held my mother’s hand and lifted my child in my arms and ran away to save ourselves outside the camp,” Khatoon said. “We lost everything. The fire destroyed even the little cash that we had kept for our daily needs. We don’t have a single [Indian] rupee to buy water.”

The proximity of the tent and the flammable materials for making the tents caused the fire to quickly spread throughout the camp. Although there were no casualties in this disaster, it is estimated that hundreds of Rohingya refugees have lost their homes and have no place to live.

The police have launched an investigation into the fire and said an electrical short circuit was the cause of the fire. “The cause of the fire is a short circuit. Forensic science experts have collected samples of electric wires from the spot to ascertain the cause behind the fire,” Bharat Singh, a Delhi Police investigative officer, told Al Jazeera from the camp.

Khatoon said the hut where the fire originated had no electricity supply or cables. Another Rohingya, Mohammad Farooq, 38, said that hours before the fire, some masked men had arrived at the camp and told the refugees to vacate the land. They brushed it off, thinking it was just another warning that they face regularly.

The fires are also not the first time for Rohingya refugees in India. This year alone, three similar incidents have occurred, causing many refugees to lose their homes and property. An estimated 40,000 Rohingya refugees, many believed to be undocumented, live in camps across Indian cities, including Jammu, Hyderabad, and Nuh.