Fire at Karenni Refugee Camp Destroys 150 Homes and Leaves 700 Residents Homeless

Terrified residents ran from their homes as a fire tore through a refugee camp on the Thai Burma border in Mae Hong Song Province.

Camp residents said the fire started at around 11am, on Tuesday 7 April, in the kitchen of a resident’s house in Karenni Refugee camp No. 1 also known as Ban Mai Nai Soi and quickly spread, destroying more than 150 homes and making as many as 700 people homeless.

It is the second fire in two years that has ripped through a Karenni refugee camp, In 2013, a fire in Karenni camp No. 2 destroyed more than 400 houses and killed 30 people.

The camp deputy chairperson, Naw Khu Paw, spoke to Karen News about the fire.

“It started from a kitchen at a house in Section 1 and it then spread to Section 12. As there is less water [during this month], the fire couldn’t be easily stopped. It was only after two fire trucks arrived, that they could put out the fire at around 2pm. According to our current information, 150 houses were totally destroyed by the fire and over 700 people are now homeless. The figures could be more. Fortunately, there are no deaths or injuries.”

Naw Khu Paw said that people made homeless by the fire were staying with their relatives or staying at the Karenni Women’s Organization’s office, the United Nation High Commission for Refugee’s office and the camp Thai Ministry of Interior’s office in the camp.

Although people are in temporary shelters, Naw Khu Paw said that food is a big problem now.

Khu Luiz, secretary of the Karenni Refugee Committee and who is currently collecting data on the refugees situation, explained to Karen News.

“There are many children and they are running here and there, so it is very difficult to get their numbers. We need to assess the emergency needs – shelter, food and cooking utensils.”

According to the camp committee, the latest population figures for Karenni Camp No. 1 is 11,663.

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