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Umpiem Refugee Camp Fire Update

The fire that raged through Umpiem Mai Refugee Camp yesterday, just 87kms from Mae Sot, was put out yesterday afternoon, and people are now faced with the difficult task of cleaning up. So far there are no cofirmed reports of any casualties, though many people have burns and cuts that were recieved while fleeing and removing thatch roofing from homes to prevent the fire spreading. Our Emergency Response Team contingent has returned to Mae Sot this morning, although some will head back this afternoon after meetings, to deliver supplies.

As those living in the camp are not allowed to leave, the conditions are currently very cramped as victims of the fire are forced to stay with friends and relatives. It is still unclear how many homes were burned, and it appers the final count will be less than the numbers first predicted. Three mosques and two nursery schools have been destroyed; it is estimated that over 4000 people and at least one third of the camp have been affected. It is currently the cold season here, and Umpiem is located in a particularly cold, hilly area, so those in the camp last night spent a very bitter night sleeping in roofless homes; blankets and warm clothing are currently being sought to help with this problem.

Our Bamboo Children’s Home was unaffected by the fire, and, though currently roof-less, is being used as a temporary shelter for many made homeless by the fire. We have not been informed that any of our children have sustained injuries as a result of the conflagration.

Currently the relief effort is being coordinated by the Thailand-Burma Border Consortium (TBBC), as they have major involvement in all the camps along the border. Donations of all kinds are currently being sought, and this are being coordinated by an Umpiem Fire Relief team that has been established; if you would like to contribute to the relief effort, please visit the relief team’s website here. It has been inspiring to see the community coming together and responding so quickly to this tragedy.

Photo: http://umphiemfirerelief.wordpress.com/


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