‘Arson’ destroys four Unicef schools in Rohingya camps


Bangladesh/Myanmar: Four Unicef schools for Rohingya children in refugee camps in Bangladesh have been destroyed in a fire, officials said, with the United Nations children’s agency calling it arson.

It was unclear who might attack the schools, which were empty at the time, but security in the camps housing around a million people has worsened in recent months.

Last week, a blaze thought to have been started by a gas stove burned down hundreds of bamboo shacks in one of the camps, leaving thousands of the refugees originally from Myanmar homeless.

Razwan Hayat, Bangladesh’s refugee commissioner, said yesterday that he believed the latest fire wasn’t started deliberately and that the schools were made of flimsy flammable materials.

“We are investigating, but we think it is an accident. These centres are not permanent structures, ” he said.

But Unicef said on Twitter that the incident was arson and that it was “working with partners to assess the damages of the attack and speed up the process of rebuilding these learning Centres”.

Unicef runs about 2,500 learning centres in the 34 refugee camps in Bangladesh’s southeastern border district of Cox’s Bazar. Some 240,000 Rohingya children studied in them before the pandemic.

They have been closed for months because of measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, but are expected to open again from next month, aid workers say. — AFP

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