Monday, December 12, 2011

Kenya to host refugees longer

Kenyan security forces search on near Liboi, a border town with Somalia where it is believed two Spanish aid workers kidnapped on October 14 from Dadaab refugee camp in the company of five men of Somali appearance.

Kenyan security forces search on near Liboi, a border town with Somalia where it is believed two Spanish aid workers kidnapped on October 14 from Dadaab refugee camp in the company of five men of Somali appearance.  

By AGGREY MUTAMBO [email protected]

Kenya might continue to carry the burden of hosting Somali refugees next year even though the Dadaab camp is crowded.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) says it is still difficult to work in Somalia because of security fears for aid workers. (READ: Al Shabaab orders aid agencies to leave)

“Humanitarian operations in Somalia remain difficult. We appeal to the parties to the conflict to respect humanitarian principles,” said the agency in its situational report on the Somalia conflict.

Although Ocha would not clearly say that aid agencies had failed to penetrate Somalia, it gave an impression that it is still far from safe to operate in the Horn of Africa country.

Last month, the UN asked the African Union Mission to Somalia (Amisom) and the rebel Al-Shabaab not to target civilians and allow relief workers to provide aid.

Kenya, which hosts more than 600,000 refugees from Somalia, had earlier this year suggested that the UN open refugee camps inside Somalia to ease pressure on Dadaab.

On Monday, Ocha said that humanitarian responses in Somalia will depend on the strength of the Transitional Federal Government and other national institutions.

The agency said it would concentrate on improving the quality of aid response through “respect for humanitarian principles, increased humanitarian access, resilience building, developing the capacity of local authorities and national humanitarian groups.”

This comes as the UN launches a humanitarian appeal in Nairobi today seeking Sh150 billion for the crisis in Somalia.

Humanitarian coordinator for Somalia Mark Bowden yesterday told reporters that the money would support over 350 projects to help Somalis.

“With the humanitarian situation expected to remain critical well into next year, early and full funding is essential. The Somali crisis is everybody’s responsibility and Somalis need support now,” he said.

The crisis in Somalia is the largest in the world, according to Ocha, with four million people failing to get basic necessities such as clean water and shelter.

Tens of thousands have died while over 500,000 fled hunger and conflict in 2011 and sought refuge in neighbouring countries, including Kenya.

Two months ago, the Kenya Defence Forces launched an operation in pursuit of Al-Shabaab insurgents.

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