27th Jan: At 6am this morning, Bujumbura central market caught fire. A massive fire completely destroying the market and threatening the buildings around, is still burning 8 hours later. According to Dieudonné Nahimana, who heads up New Generation, our partner organisation in Bujumbura, “people have died.” The market is a popular place for street children as well as being the main market trade point in the country. This is a serious disaster for the country and the President has just left AU meetings outside the country to return. It has a personal angle for us as well as Dieudonné’s wife Maryam has lost her shop and all that was in it, in the fire. This business was enabling the family to survive whilst Dieudonné was focused on the work with street children. Street Action is monitoring events closely. We are trying to get information about the street children in the area. At 17:00 we will put an update on this site. We will then start assessing what response is appropriate. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Burundi today and especially to the street children and to Dieudonné, Maryam and their family.
Update at 17:00 UK time: we are struggling to get info through a to whether the fire is out. Rwandan helicopters came to fight fire. We have heard unconfirmed reports that the fire is out. We have also heard no reports of casualties. What we do know is that 5000 families rely on the market for survival and much of the merchandise was lost. This is catastrophic. As soon as well have more information, we will post.
Update at 06:00 on 28th Jan: Although info is still only trickling through. What seems to be emerging is that one person has died in the fire (possibly a woman trying to retrieve a large amount of money from inside.) There are some who are hurt and we do not know the extent of this. We have not heard of any street children unaccounted for or missing. We are also trying to establish the extent of damage to the retail business of Maryam Nahimana which was potentially totally destroyed. This is of great interest to us as this business is the main income generator for the Nahimana’s and ensures the family’s survival whilst Dieudonné works so tirelessly around street children for no salary.
This footage that we found on youtube give an idea of the size of the fire.