The Al Yasmine Refugee Camp was almost completely destroyed by a fire over the weekend. [Picture: Orient XXI]
A fire that tore through a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon has reduced to ashes a number of peoples’ homes and belongings, taking their dreams with it.
The Al Yasmine Refugee camp erupted in flames early on Saturday morning. The fire razed the homes of 170 families, according to the Africa Muslims Agency (AMA) in Lebanon.
Speaking in a live crossover with Salaamedia, a representative of the agency, Fatima Kaisi, said the fire struck unexpectedly in the refugee camp that is home to around 200 families. It took many of their belongings with it.
“It wasn’t expected. They were sleeping in their tents, their safe place. These tents, for them, are not just any other place. It’s the place where they sought refuge from Syria more than 10 years after the Syrian war. Now, they’ve lost their tents, belongings, official papers and everything,” she said.
Speaking in Arabic through Kaisi, 11-year old Muna described how she woke up to an intense heat. She left her familys’ tent in time, but later found it burnt to the ground.
“All of a sudden, we started feeling heat. We ran out of the tent and started to see the fire is getting more and more stronger and everything got burnt – my clothes, schoolbag, stationary, uniform. This is what upset met the most. My dreams and my certificate got burnt,” she said.
Another child, Zainab, told the story of a morning evacuation. Luckily, her family’s tent was spared.
“When the fire happened, [I] couldn’t believe my eyes. I couldn’t do anything except shout, to make everyone wake up. It was at like 8 in the morning so it was not like any other morning. I was afraid that my tent would also get affected.”
Many of the children living in the Al Yasmine Refugee Camp are students at the AMAN School of Excellence. Some of them captured the hearts of South Africans when they toured the country last year.
Kaisi said the main priority was to begin rebuilding the camp and the lives that had been destroyed by the fire over the weekend.