Given the downpour these past few days, the homeless residents of Korail, especially the pregnant women, are at a higher risk of contracting communicable diseases without shelter and medical attention.
Since the fire on Thursday night , many have been squatting near their rubble of their shanties, including nine-month pregnant Nargis Khatun, 28, who has been living in a tent.
Hungry and pregnant with twins, she is at risk of contracting communicable diseases from the rain flooding the grounds with garbage from the open sewage in the slum.
Unable to afford three meals as her husband’s fabric store burnt down, Nargis told the Dhaka Tribune that most residents raise funds to feed them once a day, but that is not enough nutrition for a pregnant woman or a breast-feeding mother.
“We do not have a single penny to our name now since my husband’s store burnt down. We are both without a job and I do not know what I will do when my babies arrive.
“When the fire broke out, people were so frantic they ran as fast as they could, pushing through everyone. I fell but nobody stopped to help me. I cannot put my terror in words,” she said.
[caption id="attachment_53682" align="aligncenter" width="958"]
From left, Nargis Khatun, Nasima Akhter, Habiba, Rina Parvin have all lost their livelihoods and homes in the most recent fire Mehedi Hasan
Nasima Akhter, 32, pregnant with her fourth child, said she did not get to eat anything the first day after the fire.
She described how helpless she felt, watching her three children starve.
“Some political people came to distribute food and some locals raised money to feed us who have who lost everything, but it is not enough. At best, it adds up to one meal a day.”
Having had her first child just 16 days ago, Habiba, 22, does not have enough to eat to produce any breast milk for her baby who is falling sick quickly.
Her baby also has respiratory problems, most likely from breathing fumes during the fire, but that cannot to be ascertained as there is no medical help available at the slum other than a temporary burn unit.
Even the Brac School that provided basic medical check-up for children has burnt down, she said, adding that there were no medical facilities.
Twenty-year-old Rina Parvin, who is pregnant with her first child and has been living under a plastic tent since the fire, said she was very sick from the fumes. Her husband is unemployed and her mother, who financially supported her, lost her vegetable shop in the blaze.
The family can barely afford to feed themselves once a day, she said. Having lost everything, Rina and her unborn child are now extremely vulnerable as their health is at risk of hunger and disease.
Korail slum has been besieged by three fires since March 2016, rendering the residents homeless repeatedly.