23/02/2012 - The video linked below was taken in the Umpiem refugee camp in northern Thailand in December 2011 when ECHO experts visited the camp to make an assessment of the humanitarian situation and ECHO funded projects. 15 000 people, mostly from Burma/Myanmar live here. Earlier today, fire broke out and quickly spread throughout the camp (to see today's video click here). NGOs based on the Thai-Burmese border report that more than 1 000 homes, schools and marketplaces were destroyed when a fire swept through the wooden and bamboo-constructed buildings. No deaths have been reported, although several people are said to be injured.
According to media reports the fire broke out as a family was cooking over a coal fire. Eyewitnesses spoke of scenes of panic as people tried to salvage their belongings from the flames as parents desperately searched for their children in the thick smoke.
The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), which maintains a Regional Support Office in Bangkok, is deploying an expert to the camp to make an assessment of the humanitarian situation, he will arrive on site tomorrow.
ECHO has been provding funding for humanitarian assistance to the camp since 1995. In 2012 ECHO has already allocated €6.5 million, mainly for food aid, healthcare and the provision of clean water and sanitation.