Kakuma News Reflector – A Refugee Free Press

Large Fire Transforms Safe Haven into Hell

Posted in Humanitarian Services, News Updates, Peace and Security by KANERE on March 23, 2020

By KANERE staff writer

A large fire broke out at the Jesuit Refugee Service’s (JRS) safe haven at around 5:30pm in the evening of January 2,2020. The fire caused severe damage to the building, located at Kakuma 1, Zone 1, Block 8.

JRS started began its work with refugees in Kakuma in 1994, focusing mainly on education and psychosocial support. Their projects target those facing the greatest challenges, having been made most vulnerable by displacement and prolonged residence in the camp.

Today, JRS offers programmes in education, mental health, counseling and protection services. They also offer alternative healing services like massage and reflexology in their various facilities throughout Kakuma.

Since 2000, JRS has operated the safe haven which serves as a protection shelter for women and children who are survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). The facility provides meals, safe and secure accommodation and basic material support, as well as psychosocial counseling and capacity building activities such as tailoring and preschool teachers’ education.

According to the people living around the center, this is not the first time that a fire has broken out at the safe haven. To hear what local residents had to say about the fire, KANERE interviewed people living near the center.

Large fire transforms at JRS Safe Haven/KANERE

“I heard it was caused due to an electrical problem. I saw people from Blocks 8, 9 and 10 rushing to the scene to control the fire. I don’t understand why this fire is repeating every year.“ – Block 9 resident

“I don’t know, this needs a serious investigation. Now, it’s like whenever the year ends, we are expecting fire.” – Block 10 resident

“I really do not know the cause. What I knew is that it was big and scary.” – Block 10 resident

“for me, it is possibly a kind of conspiracy. It might be deliberate, because it is happening every time on the same occasion.’’ – Block 9 resident

Others noted that there were fears that the fire would spread beyond the safe haven. “This is a windy season. The fire could possibly spread to Blocks 9, 10 and 8. Such fires have the potential to damage the entirety of Kakuma 1.” – Block 8 resident

“Yes, I remember there was another fire accident in November of 2018/. The reason for this is under investigation.” – Member of staff at the centre

JRS offers programmes in education, counseling and protection services/ KANERE

“This place is a protection area and we don’t need anything to be told or written about the incident “staff at the center wishing not to disclose any information to reporters.

“If such fires are normal, then let the center have its own fire extinguisher and other materials so that we will not be scared.” – person living close to the center
“We have kids, elderly women and sick people. Imagine what will happen if the fire gets out of control! It is good if the wind will stop when such things happen!” – resident living close to the center

Nearby refugee communities turned-up to put out the fire at the JRS/KANERE

JRS also runs a number of other programmes in Kakuma, including the provision of mental health skills training, operation of a day care center which provides informal education and offer leisure activities to special needs children and adults with developmental and mental disabilities, They also carry out home visit for special needs people, provide scholarships for special needs children and advocate to raise awareness on behalf of persons with disabilities.

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