Fire At Rohingya Camps: Many pointing at conflict between Arsa, RSO

Cox's Bazar Rohingya Camps Fire
Photo: Star

Sunday's fire that made 12,000 stateless Rohingyas homeless in a Cox's Bazar refugee camp was the result of enmity between armed groups Arsa and RSO, said sources inside the camp. 

Rohingyas said they became victims of the fighting between the two groups.

Officials, however, said the fire was possibly an act of sabotage.

"It could be sabotage. We have got some video clips and we are suspecting that the fire was set off intentionally. We got information that a shooting took place before the fire incident in the area," Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, refugee relief and repatriation commissioner, told The Daily Star yesterday.

He also said that a seven-member committee, headed by Cox's Bazar Additional District Magistrate Abu Sufian, was formed to investigate the incident. It was asked to submit a report within three working days.

"Once we receive the probe report, it will be clear to us whether it was sabotage. Stern action will be taken against the perpetrators if it is found to be sabotage," Mizanur added.

Sources said members of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) and Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) engaged in several clashes since January over control of the Rohingya camps. The first of those clashes was at Konarpara Rohingya Camp in Tambru of Bandarban's Naikkhangchhari upazila in January.

The RSO maintained a strong presence in blocks A, B, and D of camp-11 in Ukhiya since January. The Arsa was trying to establish its supremacy in those blocks for the last few days, the sources added.

Arsa members set fire to the camp on Sunday afternoon to drive out the RSO members, said a source, adding that the two groups exchanged gunshots around 2:00pm that day.

Seeking anonymity, witnesses said exchange of fire between the two groups has become very common in recent days. The frequency of clashes increased since January when RSO members entered the Rohingya camps in Ukhiya.

"We first became stateless and now we are homeless. It's probably our fate that we will spend our entire life under the open sky," said a Rohingya man.

He said that the Rohingyas had to suffer due to the clashes between the two armed groups.

On Sunday, some 2,000 Rohingya homes were gutted in a massive fire in a refugee camp in Ukhiya of Cox's Bazar.

There have been incidents of fire in January 2022 and March 2021.

The massive blaze in 2021 killed at least 15 refugees, including six children, and destroyed over 9,000 homes.

Arsa and RSO have been rivals for years. The RSO was most active in the 1990s but it lost its appeal among the Rohingyas later, said Rohingyas.

Arsa came into the spotlight in 2016 while the RSO reemerged last year.

Arsa is blamed for attacks on the Myanmar military and police outposts in Rakhine State in August 2017.


প্রস্তাবিত বাজেটে সার্বিক ঘাটতি
৩৮ মিনিট আগে|রাজনীতি

অর্থমন্ত্রী উন্নয়নের কথামালা দিয়ে বাস্তবতাকে অস্পষ্ট করে দিয়েছেন: মেনন

বাজারে মূল্য বৃদ্ধির ঘটনাগুলো ঘটছে, সেটা কীভাবে নিয়ন্ত্রণ হবে এটা খুব একটা...