By Gozde Bayar
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey on Tuesday extended condolences to the relatives of those who lost their lives in a massive fire at Rohingya refugee camps in southern Bangladesh.
"We are saddened by the tragic loss of lives and property as well as extensive damages to the shelters caused by a massive fire yesterday (22 March) at the camps in Cox’s Bazar hosting the Rohingyas who escaped from the atrocity in Myanmar," a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said.
The statement noted that the Turkish Field Hospital in Cox’s Bazar which had been providing vital health services to the Rohingya in the region was rendered completely inoperable by the fire as well.
"We wish to stress that we stand firmly with the Rohingya refugees and Bangladesh Government in the face of this disaster,” it said, adding: "We are closely following the process relating to the fire."
Underlining that Turkey will resolutely continue its humanitarian aid efforts, the ministry said it is of utmost importance that the international community increase its support to Bangladesh.
“On this occasion, we once again reiterate our call for the necessary steps to be taken for ensuring safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return of the Rohingyas to their homeland in Myanmar,” it added.
Earlier, the UN confirmed that 15 people were killed and over 550 others were injured in Monday’s deadly fire in Rohingya refugee camps.
Louise Donovan, UNHCR communications officer in Bangladesh, told Anadolu Agency that 200 people were still missing.
The Turkish Red Crescent said at least 55,000 Rohingya refugees were affected by the fire in the camps as over 10,000 shelters became unusable.
Nearly 12,000 people from more than 2,800 families were sent to other camps, the aid agency said.
Civil defense teams, fire department, Bangladesh Red Crescent teams, volunteers and disaster specialists in the permanent delegation of the Turkish Red Crescent have joined the post-fireworks, it added.
Also, the agency's experts have started damage and need assessment studies to meet the urgent needs of the Rohingya refugees.
Hundreds of shanties were gutted after a massive fire broke out at Rohingya refugee camp in southern Bangladesh on Monday, according to eyewitnesses and authorities.