Kakuma News Reflector – A Refugee Free Press

House Fire Killed Three Children

Posted in News Updates by KANERE on January 8, 2014

A Somali family mourn after their house burst into flames killing three children.

A house located at Kakuma 1 zone1 block 1 of Kakuma refugee camp suddenly blazed on fire in the late afternoon of Wednesday, 11th December, killing three children without any rescue.

Efforts by the neighbors were fruitless despite struggles to save the house and other valuables. “As the kids screamed for help, their neighbors thought the children were playing as usual but were shocked to come to find furious burning smoke,” a Somali woman stated.

At the time of the fire, it was reported that the children were left alone unattended by their mother who was said to have abandoned the children to take another sick baby to nearest camp clinic which is about 10 minutes walk. It was also said that the mother of the children locked them up and tied the elder son with a chain for safety because the boy had mental difficulties.

“We could not establish the cause of the fire and had no knowledge why the kid’s mother had tied her son in chains except the boy had mental problems,” a local security guard told Kanere at the scene of fire.

Unfortunately, the fire broke out without her knowledge, that not only killed the children but destroyed the entire property of the family, leaving dead sticks and melted iron sheets at the scene.

The mother of the children, Kadija Abdi Ahmed, returned home only to find hundreds of people struggling to put out the fire. The rescuing community members had no knowledge that there are children in the house until they saw Kadija disappearing into the flames after screaming that three of her children were in the house.

Neighbours survey the scene

Neighbours survey the scene

Hundreds of block residents turned up for rescue. An eye witness, Mr. Abdalla Mohamed stated that the he saw Kadija running into the fire to rescue her children and two other men followed her into the house and a man came out holding the dead body of Kadija’s daughter.

About 30 minutes after the fire, the bodies of three youngsters and their mother were taken to the Kakuma refugee camp hospital by police patrol vehicle.

Abdalla further explained that the bodies of the three discovered children were burnt to death in the fire, while the mother of the children fell into a coma following carbon monoxide inhalation. Kadija was hospitalized for injuries sustained in the fire and mental trauma and depression for losing her children since the day of fire and could not be reached for comment.

The burnt-out wreckage

The burnt-out wreckage

At the scene of the fire household properties, assorted clothes, and a television set among other valuable properties were burnt beyond identification. The floor of the house was covered by dark ashes, bed and beddings were found burning moments after more efforts were made to put out the dangerous evening fire.

The three siblings namely; Mohamed Hussein Abdullahi, Nasteho and Sumeya who were aged eight, five and three respectively were laid to rest between 6pm to 9pm late in the same evening.

The refugee houses in the camps are made of thatched grass and loosely made fence from dry trees that if it catches fire spreads very rapidly. The refugee camps are believed to be an emergency set up but it has existed for decades and the refugees have only temporary dilapidated shelters to live in.

According to the camp security department the cause of the fire was not immediately established but there were suspicions that it could have been deliberately started. However, members of the public have stated that unidentified persons must have set up the fire from the roof of the house as huge smoke was seen at the very beginning when the fire started. “I ran out of my house due to huge smoke and I saw the house was burning from its roof,” Mohamed Qarnole explained.

In speaking with a police officer, a clear report on the fire was not established despite continued investigation into the arson. However, in speaking with a government information officer, Kanere learnt the deadly fire might be caused by electricity.¬† “The cause of the fire was believed to be short circuit of low lying electricity wires,” a government information officer told Kanere.

In Kakuma fires have erupted on several occasions. In January 2011, a fatal blaze enveloped 32 residential blocks in Kakuma 1 and resulted in six persons being admitted to camp hospital. “KANERE, February 11, 2011 issue; Fatal blaze destroys housing group in Kakuma.”

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2 Responses

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  1. james smith said, on January 11, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    That is why we need to be careful in choosing a licensed electrician to prevent fire like this! What is the cover!

  2. Mary Peterson said, on April 20, 2014 at 5:21 am

    Hi James,

    I haven’t found any official response sent to you by the concern authority. The UNHCR is responsible to protect refugees and their custody. However, I’ve understood that there was no cover, no compensation to the family?

    This houses, the refugee houses are even the simple ramshackle shelters where the wiring is been done by unqualified electricians and wire are bare (not insulated)! The’re no safety measures in that camp when i visited 4 months ago.

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