The United Nations refugee agency and its partners are rushing aid to north-western Thailand, where a fire killed more than 30 people, wounded several others and destroyed thatched homes leaving thousands of people homeless in a remote refugee camp in Mae Hong Son province.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident and doing what we can to provide instant relief,” said the Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Thailand, Mireille Girard.
“Our teams are returning to the camp this morning with plastic sheets, blankets, bed mats and other items to provide temporary emergency shelter before their homes can be rebuilt,” she said in a news release issued on Saturday.
Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire that broke out on Friday, spreading to two sectors of the Ban Mae Surin camp. Initial reports suggest it was sparked by a cooking accident.
At least four people are seriously injured. The International Committee of the Red Cross has offered help for the wounded, many of whom have been taken to local hospitals.
Approximately 2,300 refugees have lost their homes and possessions in the incident, according to UNHCR. The camp’s clinic and food distribution centre were also razed in the fire.
According to the latest UN information, the Border Consortium consisting of 10 non-governmental organizations from eight countries is making arrangements for food to be provided.
Relief efforts are being coordinated by the Thai Government and provincial and camp authorities, who administer the camp.
The camp site, 90 kilometres from Mae Hong Son town, is home to about 3,500 refugees who fled the ethnic conflict in neighbouring Myanmar.