ARC expresses deep concern regarding the fire incident at Kudakudhinge Hiya today, which is the third fire incident in less than one and a half months. ARC notes that the number of children living at Kudakudhinge Hiya has been decreasing over the last few months, as more and more children are being moved to different Shelters across the country. This fire incident is therefore especially concerning, as there are less than 10 children living at the shelter currently, which should have made the management of the Shelter easier.
ARC therefore reiterates its calls on the State to improve security at Kudakudhinge Hiya, and ensure the safety of all children housed at the Shelter. ARC additionally calls on relevant authorities to urgently investigate the reasons behind these repeated fire incidents, as this trend has the potential to result in a fatality or serious injury to a child under State Care. ARC further reiterates it’s previous statement calling on relevant institutions to conduct a fire and safety audit of the Shelter to ensure that similar incidents do not recur.
These fire incidents add on to a series of recent negative events at Kudakudhinge Hiya, which is a result of a numerous issues within the Shelter, including the failure to adequately manage the facility and address the needs of children, which have been further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. ARC has brought several of these issues to the attention of State agencies as well as independent institutions on various occasions.