May 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
Sad to get this note from the UN today.
A couple of thousand people, mostly Eritreans and Somalis, are still stuck in the Tunisian desert, where I spent a week back in March, waiting for somewhere to go.
Some of them died in a fire last night.
On Sunday, 22 May, at around 03:00 am, a fire broke out in the Eritrean block at Shousha camp while the camp residents were asleep. As a result, four persons died and one is injured, all of whom are Eritrean nationals registered with UNHCR. One of the deceased was working as an interpreter with UNHCR for the RSD (Refugee Status Determination) and resettlement interviews. The fire was put out by the army and civil defence who intervened immediately at the scene.
All the deceased were staying in three tents linked to each other. With the strong wind that was blowing in the area during the night, the fire quickly spread to other tents in the block burning a total of 21 units. Luckily, those who were sleeping in the nearby tents managed to evacuate immediately saving their lives. However, all their belongings are destroyed.
The cause of the fire is not yet known but the Tunisian authorities and military have started conducting their own investigation. Rumours suggesting that the fire was set up deliberately by others are spreading among the camp populations, particularly the Eritrean community.