Lutheran Disaster Response

Our response to disasters in the U.S. and around the world; look for sections of this blog related to specific disaster locations. Comments are welcomed and moderated.

Nepal: Fire Displaces About 6,000 Bhutanese Refugees

Posted on March 24, 2011 by Matthew Ley

A March 22 fire broke out in the Nepalese refugee camps of Goldhap and Sanischare displacing about 6,000 Bhutanese refugees. The ELCA, through its World Hunger program, supports human rights advocacy and development in the region. For more information please read this partial report from Marceline P Rozario, Lutheran World Federation Country Representative for Nepal. Let us pray for those who have been affected by this tragedy that the Lord may keep them safe, calm their fears and give strength to those who seek to meet their needs.

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Dear friends,

About 6,000 Bhutanese refugees, including women and children, were rendered homeless yesterday (Tuesday) after a deadly fire that broke out in Goldhap and Sanischare camps. This is the second deadly outbreak of fire in Gholdap camp in the last three years.

Nearly six hours after a massive fire swept through Gholdap camp of Jhapa, gutting down 516 huts and displacing about 3,500 Bhutanese refugees, another deadly fire on the same day broke out in Sanishchare camp of Morang, burning down 200 huts to ashes and leaving around 2,500 Bhutanese refugees displaced. At least 29 refugees were injured in a stampede triggered by the fire in Gholdhap. No case of injury has been reported in Sanishchare camp.

The fire destroyed Gholdhap camp about two weeks before its planned merger with another refugee camp in Beldangi. Following the departure of many refugees for third country resettlement program initiated by the United Nations High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR), Gholdap camp was all set to be merged with Beldangi.

Most of the refugees could not save their properties because the fire, triggered by a cooking gas leak in one of the huts, swiftly swept through Gholdap camp. The fire was spurred by forceful wind. It took nearly four hours for locals, refugees. agency staffs and firefighters to douse the fire.

All refugees, displaced by the fire, have been kept in nearby schools. The fire has partly damaged local offices of the UNHCR and the World Food Program (WFP), In Sanischare camp, apart from refugees´ huts, offices of Camp Management Committee (CMC), Refugee Coordination Unit (RCU) and Reconciliation Center have been badly damaged. The office of Lutheran World Federation has also been partly damaged.

We are holding urgent meetings with all agencies including the government. We shall inform you about our actions in this emergency.

Best regards.

Marceline

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