200 left homeless after storm ravishes refugee camp

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Fifty-seven houses were destroyed and 200 people made homeless in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border as a result of a strong wind storm.

The storm raced through the Ban Don Yang refugee camp near Three Pagoda Pass, Mon State, Burma, around 2 p.m. on Monday.

Though lasting only some ten minutes, the winds were strong enough to destroy thatch and bamboo structures.

One refugee said, “It’s very lucky that we are safe. When we were out of our house a tree fell on the house. During the strong wind a lot of people were running around. We ran to an open field.”   Ban-Don-Yang

The camp chairman, Saw Htoo Han, said, “The food warehouse, primary school, computer classroom and patient room were damaged in the camp. The camp is home to 4,000 people.”

“At first, rain and hail fell. Then the strong wind came with a loud sound. Some huts were destroyed. The roofs of some cottages were opened,” Saw Htoo Han continued.

The principal of the primary school exclaimed, “The roofs, walls and floors of the school were opened and damaged. Now, we can’t teach to the students. There are around sixty students.”

Many refugees in the camp are from Kyar Inn Seik Kyi Township in Karen State, having fled a junta offensive in 1997.

Additionally, over 2,000 refugees from the Htan Him camp in southern Thailand were transferred to the Ban Don Yang in 1998.

The Thai Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) has arranged food and clothing for the refugees who lost their homes.

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