The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has said that no fewer than 80,000 Somalis were forced from their homes by extremist violence and drought.
According to the agency, these Somalias had sought shelter in recent weeks at Kenya’s Dadaab Refugee Camps.
An estimated 24,000 people have arrived at the camp complex since the end of September.
Some of the refugees were taken in there during the past two years, according to UNHCR spokesperson, Mr Boris Cheshirkov.
He told journalists in Geneva that despite a recent drop in the pace of daily arrivals at Dadaab, an arid part of northeast Kenya, “adequate space in the camps …is running out’’.
This has forced many to construct makeshift shelters along the outskirts of the camps, “where clean water and sanitation facilities are either grossly insufficient or non-existent”.
Even more alarming is the cholera outbreak that has affected host and refugee communities.
“Over 350 cases have been identified since the end of October; mainly affecting children,’’ Cheshirkov. said.
“In one area that UNHCR teams recently visited, a family was hosting up to 28 people, eight of them had already been infected.
“Treatment centres need more personnel and supplies to help curb further spread of the disease.’’
According to him, help has been provided to the new arrivals, including clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.
Cheshirkov said that targeted protection services had also been put in place for the most vulnerable.
“Malnourished children are being screened and admitted to stabilisation centres,
“Plans are underway to boost assistance by providing additional basic relief items including dignity kits for women and girls at Dadaab’s Dagahaley, Ifo and Hagadera camps,’’ he said.
Working with partners, the UN agency is also assisting host communities surrounding Dadaab by rehabilitating boreholes, providing generators for water pumps and trucking in water.
UNHCR has also planned additional treatment centres to boost healthcare access for new arrivals and to prepare for future cholera infections.
Meanwhile, humanitarians remain deeply concerned about the continued failed rains and drought in the Horn of Africa region.
Cheshirkov described this as “the longest and most severe in decades’’.
“Some 4.5 million Kenyans, mainly in the northern and eastern parts, are also battling with the effects of the devastating drought,’’ he said. (NAN)