Sunday, July 24, 2011

Stop entry of refugees, says Murugi

Special Programmes minister Esther Murugi said refugee camps should be built in Somalia

Photo/ FILE Special Programmes minister Esther Murugi said refugee camps should be built in Somalia 

By NATION REPORTER

A Cabinet minister has called on the international community to stop the entry of more Somali refugees in Kenya, citing threat to security and strained resources.

“Let Somalis stay in their country. If it is food, we are willing to assist them, but currently we are strained,” said Special Programmes minister Esther Murugi.

She said refugee camps should be built in Somalia. The minister said the strategic grain reserves had shrunk to two million bags of maize instead of the required eight million, noting that buying more was difficult due to increased prices.

According to Ms Murugi, the Cabinet has asked ministries to donate divert some of their votes to mitigate the effects of the crisis.

Buiding roads

“We are targeting Sh10.5 billion, and so far Sh8 billion has been raised. There is no point of building roads if there will be no Kenyans to use them,” she said.

Ms Murugi, Dr Mohammed Sirat (Wajir South MP), United Nations World Food Programme executive director Josette Sheeran, head of Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Jacques Diouf and French Agriculture minister Bruno le Maire were on a tour of drought-ravaged Wajir on Saturday.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there are 483,000 refugees in Kenya. The refugees have since January been arriving in the country at the rate of 1,300 per day.

Local leaders fear that this situation is putting pressure on the scarce food and land. The UN says that tens of thousands of people have died in Somalia from drought-related causes. (READ: Staring death in the eye)

Thousands of others continue fleeing hunger and fighting in the Horn of Africa country.

In Wajir carcasses of animals were strewn on the roadsides near the camps where thousands of refugees await relief food.

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