Cuba’s medical brigade, which often sends help for medical emergencies throughout the region, has offered their services to attend victims of a deadly fire at a shelter for teens in Guatemala.
“Once again, we unite in the pain of the Guatemalan people and we offer the services of our Cuban Medical Brigade, to collaborate in whatever way Guatemalan health authorities consider necessary, for those girls and youth who still remain hospitalized or have emotional trauma because of all that happened,” wrote the Cuban embassy in Guatemala in a statement.
37 people died as the result of a Tuesday-night fire at a government-run home for abused teens in Guatemala with nearly 40 others injured, local media reported, after dozens of residents had escaped the overcrowded home following an overnight melee.
Nery Ramos, the head of Guatemala’s national police, initially said from the scene that 19 girls were confirmed dead, and later the number rose to 37, local media reported.
“This is a painful situation,” Ramos said, adding that the fire had been started by a group of young people at the center, a public institution where conditions are often dismal and with widespread overcrowding, as an act of public mutiny and an attempt to escape. Local media said more than 800 children lived there, despite its capacity to hold only 500.
The home is run by the Ministry of Social Welfare, with the attorney general for human rights deciding which children are placed in the home. Hours after the fire, President Jimmy Morales expressed his condolences in a statement and declared three days of national mourning in the country.
Over the years, the shelter, named the Virgin of the Assumption Safe Home, has received many complaints of its dismal living conditions and instances of abuse.
As recent as December 2016, the shelter received instructions for improving the living conditions and security of the facility based on a report by the Guatemalan agency Mechanism Against Torture.
These recommendations were not put into place, according to local media.