Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Refugees told to get out of towns

PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA | FILE Somali refugees at the new Ifo-extension at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya in this photo taken on July 31, 2011. Refugees living in urban areas have been ordered to return to camps.
PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA | FILE Somali refugees at the new Ifo-extension at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya in this photo taken on July 31, 2011. Refugees living in urban areas have been ordered to return to camps.
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By DAVE OPIYO [email protected]

All refugees and asylum seekers living in urban areas have been directed to move to camps in North Eastern and Rift Valley provinces.

Those from Somalia have been advised to report to Daadab refugee camp while those from other countries should make their way to Kakuma.

The move by the government is widely seen as a result of rising insecurity which, in some cases, has been linked to refugees. (Read: Insecurity blamed on foreigners)

Acting commissioner for refugee affairs Badu Katelo announced on Tuesday that registration of new refugees had been stopped with immediate effect.

Mr Katelo said the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and other relief agencies had been asked to stop providing direct services to asylum seekers.

“Instead, they have been advised to transfer the services to refugee camps,” said Mr Katelo.

According to the UNHCR website, the Somali refugee population in Kenya has reached 450,000, stretching infrastructure and services.

These large numbers are far beyond the original intended capacity of the three camps — Ifo, Dagahaley and Hagadera — in Dadaab, with a capacity of 90,000.

On the other hand, more than 80,000 refugees and asylum-seekers live at Kakuma camp. These include more than 43,000 Somalis.

Other refugees come mainly from Sudan, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

As a result of congestion in Daadab, new arrivals settled around Dadaab while others moved to urban areas, complicating registration and straining service delivery.

As a result, the host communities and refugees competed for scarce water and wood for fuel, leading to clashes.

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