Umpiem Refugee Fire Victims Still Struggling

The building of shelters to replace those destroyed by a fire last week in Umpeim Mai Refugee Camp, Tak Province, is being delayed by a lack of building materials, claims a camp official.

Saw Wah Htee, the chairperson of Umpiem Mai refugee camp, explained that a lack of basic building materials was causing the delay.

“Currently, we can’t build the new buildings yet as we still waiting for more wood, bamboo, and thatch. Waterproof canvases were provided for use instead of roofing,” he said.

The Border Consortium (TBC) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – organisations that assist in administering the camps – provided the waterproof canvasses for the refugees.

Saw Ko Ko, a resident at the camp whose house was destroyed in the fire told Karen News that to rebuild his home he needed a lot more building materials than he was supplied with.

“We have been provided [with] only some wood and bamboo to rebuild our houses, we are still waiting to receive more bamboo and wood.”

The Border Consortium (TBC), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), NGOs and camp authorities held a meeting yesterday on the rehabilitation procedures for fire victims.

The Border Consortium (TBC), NGOs and Karen community-based-organisations are providing help to the refugees affected by the fire, this includes, clothing, blankets, mosquito nets, mats, rice, cooking oil, salt, bean for fire victim refugees in currently.

The fire broke out on Febuary 3rd and resulted in 11 houses been destroyed and a further 28 houses had their roofing removed to stop the fire from spreading. Those made homeless by the fire have staying at their relative’s houses in the meantime.

In the last two years a number of fires have broke out in a number of camps on the Thai Burma border. In December 2013, a fire destroyed 120 homes in the largest camp, Mae La, and a fire in Umpiem Mai in February 2012, destroyed more than 1,000 homes. A fire that ravaged Ban Mae Surin refugee camp in March last year proved to be the deadliest -killing 37 refugees. Umpiem Mai refugee camp is home to around 14,000 refugees according to
the latest statistics from TBC.

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