The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, is asking
for $92 million to help hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees who’ve fled to
Kenya. Many of those refugees end up in the Dadaab refugee camp complex in
remote northeastern Kenya, near the Somali border. The agency says the complex
is 17 years old and is one of the oldest, largest and most congested refugee
sites in the world.
Deutekom is a spokesperson for the UNHCR. From Dadaab, he told VOA English to
Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua that the camps sit on a relatively small
area of land. As a result, three or four families are now forced to share the
who arrived a long time ago have to host new arrivals, which leads to bad
sanitation…situations. And also from a protection point of view, it’s not what
we would like or what we wish,” he says.
estimated the camps currently provide shelter for 235,000 people and that does
not include people that are currently waiting for registration done by UNHCR.
And many more are on the way. “On a monthly basis, there is still an estimate
of between seven and ten thousand new arrivals,” he says.
says the UN World Food Program has done a good job of securing enough food for
the refugees, but there are shortages of non-food items, especially shelters.
“Those are currently not available, at least not in the numbers that we need
them,” he says.
says it would use some of the $92 million dollars to build two new camps, but
it’s unclear where. “We are looking inside Kenya for locations… And that’s what
we are discussing with the Kenyan government -- where those locations will be
established. A normal camp would host between 25,000 and 30,000 people, in
accordance with the UNHCR guidelines. I must say the exact surface of that area
(size) I cannot tell you know. For a country the size of Kenya, it’s not that
much of an area,” he says.
says hosting more than 200,000 people does affect the local community in both
good and bad ways. “Let me start with the positive ways. We help them building
schools. We help them drilling bore holes. We provide labor,” he says.
The negative effects include
environmental damage because the refugees bring their cattle, which graze the
surrounding areas. The refugees also cut down trees to build shelters. The
Kenyan government is also concerned about the large numbers of Somali refugees
in Dadaab overwhelming the local community.