Aftermath of Bhutanese refugee camp Beldangi 2 fire.

UPDATE :
According to Bhutan News Service the Government of Nepal provided a cash aid of Rs 1000 (less than €10) each for 54 huts razed by fire on Friday morning. However, no donations have been made available to households whose huts were destroyed while preventing the mishap. Around three dozen of huts fall in this category, according to Camp Secretary of Beldangi camp. The current price for a hut is around Rs 2400 at least.
This means that some 30 families will not be rehoused if they are not financially supported and all other victims will not be able to rebuild their huts completely without financial support.
It is only natural that UNHCR is pressed to add funds from the refugee budget for this needed support. Unless anyone else brings in these needed funds!

The fire is under control and extinguished. The number of destroyed huts is according to one source 85 huts with 250 displaced refugees who are now housed in the English language school for the time being. More info will become available after some time. The location of the start of the fire is known and the cause is being researched.

Tragically the fire started in the hut of the former camp secretary of Goldhap camp, his family now been struck by massive fire for the third time in 4 years.

Luckily enough there seem to be no casualties and international aid organizations have arrived at the scene to scale up relief work. There were problems with late arrival of fire squads. No human casualties have been reported according to the Bhutan News Service sources. More information is available on www.bhutannewsservice.com.


video courtesy of Kumar Mishra / Bhutan News Service 

This information came to me while events were still happening:

The fire inferno in bel 2, nearly more then 300 huts burnt.
 Police say investigation is under proces.
 3 water tankers still r trying to control fire bt not progres.
 Fire begain at 1.09 am acording 2 eye witnesses n stil going on....

Beldangi 2 is struck by fire again. Every year there are fires in this time of year. Last year in March an enormous fire destroyed the Goldhap camp that was dismantled last summer with it’s inhabitants moving to the Beldangi camps. And now that camp caught fire in the night. The fire started in sector B/2 after 1 am local time this Friday. Because this was a nightly fire it was very difficult to get under control but by preventively dismantling around 35 huts the camps inhabitants have been able to prevent further spread of the fire.

Affected area is on the left of the central crossing in the camp. (Map by Google Maps)

photo courtesy of Kumar Mishra / Bhutan News Service 

Beldangi 2 is currently the most densely populated Bhutanese refugee camp in Nepal with refugees recently arriving from the Timay camp. Fires are one of the main hazards of camp life and are the immediate result of a combination of factors. Huts are constructed of materials that catch fire easily, in the period February to May there is little rain, rising temperature and sometimes strong winds making small fires spread quickly, the huts are build very close together increasing the risk of fires jumping to other huts and to top it all there is no fire squad stationed at the camps. Fire squads will have to come from Damak (4 km’s) and places like Itihari and Kakarbitta making swift response impossible. The effect of the latter being important time loss when fires do break out and therefore increasing the risk of massive camp fires. The Beldangi camp has this time been very lucky that the didn’t spread and destroy a much larger portion of the camp as happened last year at the Goldhap camp. Especially now that the Beldangi camp has recently been repopulated with refugees from the now dismantled Goldhap and Timay camps. Fires are next to increasing social problems the main worry of everyone who knows the scene.

This report was made possible thanks to swift communication with sources from Bhutan News Service and others in the area.

Alice Verheij © 2012

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Donation drive for Beldangi hunger strikers.

Aimed at supporting 12 women including breast-feeding mothers, who fasted-to-death for 12 days, and nine children associated with them, the Bhutan Media Society has launched an online donation drive, involving the resettled communities of various eight countries and their well-wishers, Monday.

At least 12 women, who were forcefully evicted from Bhutan fasted-to-death for 12 days demanding “refugee status” and facilities from the Nepal government and aid agencies. The Government of Nepal finally acknowledged their demands and committed to fulfill them within the next five months. Women, who have lost their health and even developed various side effects due to long fasting, were admitted in the AMDA Hospital in Damak for treatment. However, they were released in a couple of days.

The Bhutan Media Society has been following their situations from the very start of the protest. Now, these women need diatary supports to regain their lost health. Some of them are breast-feeding mothers, and there are nine children below the age of 10 associated with these women. In our observation, these women are unable to work to earn their daily bread for at least a week or two.

This is what one of the women told us:

We would be greatful if the resettled community could help us. I have a child but no ration. My husband remained busy in escorting patients during the hunger strike. My baby was helpess during that period, without any fixed timing for food. We still don’t have food to eat.

My chest and throat ache. I have a problem in my kidneys. I am very week.

Most of us are mothers with small children. We are not in a position to earn the daily bread for our children. We feel that the support from resettled community would help us to feed our children until we become able to do so again.

For supporting the women to recover their lost health and their children with food, the Bhutan Media Society has launched a donation drive. The donations that we receive from our esteemed donors will be mobilised to assist the women with dietary supports, and ensure foods for their children at least for a week.

Based on the their request, the Society has decided to garner some supports from the resettled Bhutanese community, their organizations and well-wishers of exiled Bhutanese, added Mishra.

The Society and its associates have appealed every Bhutanese to support the initiative on humanitarian grounds. According to Mishra, the official website of Bhutan News Service will publish details of all donations made on regular basis, like in various donations drives conducted by the Society.

The donation drive lasts until mid-night of December 5, 2011, Nepal Standard Time.
Please distribute this video at will in support of our campaign.
We are committed towards transparancy of all transactions made through our initiatives.

BHUTAN MEDIA SOCIETY
Kathmandu, Nepal

For details :
www.bhutannewsservice.com
editor@bhutannewsservice.com

For donations click here to go to the donation drive.