Kenya: Thousands of refugees to be transferred from Dadaab to Kakuma
20 February 2009

Somali refugees in Kakuma refugee camp. (Sophie Vodvarka/JRS)
Currently all the agencies in Kakuma are grappling with the sudden news that 50,000 refugees are going to be transferred from Dadaab to Kakuma.
Kakuma, 20 February 2009 — The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) is now planning to move thousands of refugees from Dadaab to Kakuma camp, 1200 km away in north-western Kenya where the population has reduced to 51,000 after the majority of Sudanese refugees has returned.

With the ongoing influx of Somali refugees into the three Dadaab camps in north-eastern Kenya, resources are overstretched, says UNHCR. At the end of January the population was at almost 250,000 while the area was originally intended for 90,000 refugees according to IRIN. As a consequence water resources have been stretched and enormous pressure has been put on sanitation systems, two cholera epidemics occurred in 2007. The lack of shelter and security has led to an increase in sexual and gender based violence with cases doubling during last year.

With the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops in Somalia the number of new arrivals is expected to increase this year. The continuous attempt by the Kenyan government to allocate land for a new camp which would host 50,000 refugees remains without success. The situation for the host community who is against expanding the camps becomes more and more critical and environmental concerns as well as land concerns have been raised.

Funds not enough for influx of refugees

Agencies in Kakuma refugee camp are expecting the arrival of the first refugees at any time from now. “Currently all the agencies in Kakuma are grappling with the sudden news that 50,000 refugees are going to be transferred from Dadaab to Kakuma. Many agencies, including JRS, are facing logistical problems and facilities on the ground are not adequate to deal with such a high influx of refugees. More funds are needed to meet the needs” says Elizabeth Ogaye, JRS Project Director in Kakuma.

To prepare for the anticipated influx JRS Kakuma is exploring new ways of extending the services provided so far. “We were asked by UNHCR to build another two Save Havens but at the moment funds are not sufficient for such a major undertaking” added Mrs. Ogaye. 







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