Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Refugees turn to State for help

Daily Nation
December 27 2010

Refugees at Dadaab Camp have appealed to the government to improve their living conditions.

They accused the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of ignoring its mandate to provide basic amenities that will allow them lead decent lives.

The camp, designed to house 90,000 refugees, now holds over 300,000 families.

This has resulted in poor sanitation and put pressure on the waste disposal system.

People are forced to use ‘flying toilets’ at night, exposing them to the risk of cholera outbreak.

Chairman of the Dadaab Minority Camp, Mr Mohammed Abdi Odhowa, said the UN agency only provides them with food stamps.

Mr Mohammed said despite forwarding their grievances to the field officers, hundreds of families spend the days in the scorching sun and the nights in the cold for lack of shelter.

“Why do they have to take in more refugees when the existing masses are living like animals in the open air?” posed Mr Odhowa.

He appealed to the government to supply them with tents, mosquito nets and water.

At least 800 foreigners, mostly from Somalia, are registered every month at the Ifo, Dagahley and Hagardere refugee camps under the central supervision of UNHCR officers in Dadaab.

The refugees are fleeing the 21-year civil war that has claimed more than 400,000 lives and displaced over a million people.

Mr Odhowa said minorities like the Somali Bantu are discriminated against during distribution of food and other services — which are controlled by the ethnic Somalis.

“The Kenyan IDPs are treated equally in all fronts, what will you make of your life when you are discriminated against by your own community every day while you are grappling with cold, disease and all forms of neglect by the UNHCR?” he asked.

Confirming the housing crisis at the camps, UNHCR spokesman Emmanuel Nyabera told the Nation they were building new camps and the refugees will be relocated next year to ease congestion.

“New Ifo (II) camp is a measure to offset the overpopulation we’ve experienced in the set up, even so, we provide make shift tents but the population is really overwhelming,” said Mr Nyabera.

Source: Daily Nation

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