State Wards started fire at Villimalé children’s shelter: Gender Minister

Fire at Kudakudhinge Hiya | Photo: MNDF

Malé, Maldives – Gender Minister Aishath Mohamed Didi said that the state wards at the children’s shelter in Villimalé started the recent fire at the facility.

The first fire broke out at the shelter on May 4th due to a conflict between two kids at the shelter according to the ministry. A second fire broke out on the same day at the Amaan Hiya building and a third fire occured this week.

The Gender Minister said that chidren were given psychological counseling after the fires as it was deemed necessary.

According to the Minister, out of the 50 children at the shelter, many have been moved to shelters in atolls leaving only a few kids at Villimalé shelter. Some of these children include those who were transferred to the shelter from ETCC.

The Human Rights and Gender Committee of the Parliament met with the relevant authorities including the police, officials from Gender Ministry, Human Rights Commission and Children’s Ombudsperson in relation to the multiple fire incidents at the shelter.

Speaking at the meeting, Human Rights Commission stated that they visited the shelter to further investigate the multiple incidents and that they have received information regarding the first incident although the second incident is not yet fully known. They also stated that some concerns regarding the shelter were submitted to the Gender Ministry back in 2018 and 2019 as well which required immediate tending to.

The commission noted that the CCTV cameras at the shelter were not functional and that they believe that a mechanism to monitor the children’s safety at the shelter is a must. They also expressed concern over the lack of appropriate programmes for children from ETCC currently at the shelter.

Children’s Ombudsperson Niumath Shafeeg said that they asked for certain measures regarding the children’s safety to be implemented back when the first incident of fire occurred at the facility. She repeatedly expressed concern over the lack of safety at the shelter.