Heavy rains flood refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia

6 mins read

 

Arrivals continue to cite insecurity inside Somalia
while some refugees say they fled in fear of possible
forced recruitment or military conscription

NAIROBI (Xinhua) — The UN refugee agency said on Friday that heavy rains have hit Somali refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, damaging tents, flooding roads and affecting aid delivery.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement issued in Nairobi that the incident comes as the refugee population in southern Ethiopia swelled to more than 150,000.

The agency said the new arrivals continue to cite insecurity inside Somalia as their reason for flight while some refugees say they fled in fear of possible forced recruitment or military conscription.

“Others cite fear of potential revenge killings in the wake of renewed fighting,” the UNHCR said as rains continue to pound several parts of the east African nation including Ethiopia.

According to the UNHCR, these circumstances, combined with last year’s famine in Somalia, eroded many people’s traditional coping mechanisms and forced them to seek asylum across the border.

The agency said the Dadaab refugee complex in northeastern Kenya has also been affected by the recent rains which have so far cleft more than 20 people dead and several people rendered homeless.

Since mid-April, the UNHCR has been distributing plastic sheets and tents to refugees whose shelter has been damaged or collapsed because of downpour.

“Our staff are standing by to distribute more tarpaulins and other relief items, prioritizing the most vulnerable refugees and those whose homes have been affected by the rains,” the statement said.

The UNHCR said together with its partners are also working to mitigate the effects of potential floods, adding that needs assessment and plans have been developed, but budgetary constraints are hindering progress.

In anticipation of malaria cases, the UNHCR said its health partners have started distributing insecticide-treated mosquito nets.

It said the 220,000 nets will be handed out in the next four weeks in Ifo, Dagahaley and Hagadera camps, accompanied by demonstrations and information sessions on their use and care.

The Dadaab refugee complex current hosts more than 464,000 refugees, the majority from Somalia.

Decades of conflict and drought have driven nearly 983,000 Somali refugees into the region, most of them hosted in Kenya, Yemen and Ethiopia.

Another 1.36 million Somalis are internally displaced within the country.

Meanwhile, the refugee agency said heavy rains in mid-April damaged an estimated 700 tents in Dollo Ado.

“Prior to this, UNHCR staff had begun identifying refugees whose shelters would need reinforcement against the rain,” it said.

They started distributing thousands of plastic sheets in the different camps two weeks ago, and are providing replacement tents to a smaller number of families whose shelters were completely destroyed by the wind and rain.

“In recent weeks, Dollo Ado in southern Ethiopia has been receiving a weekly average of 450 new Somali refugees. More than 8, 500 have been registered so far this year, pushing the refugee population in the area’s five camps past the 150,000 mark,” it said.

The access road to one of the camps, Hilaweyn, has been flooded.

This has slowed down the delivery of services, including water provision.

The agency said Dollo Ado’s dry-weather only airstrip was also out of service for most of last week, but is currently serviceable again. Road convoys are in place during the rainy season, to supplement or replace air travel as necessary, it said.
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Somali refugees in southern
Ethiopia exceed 150,000

GENEVA (Xinhua) — Somali refugees in southern Ethiopia’s Dollo Ado increased to more than 150,000, said a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Friday.

The spokesman, Adrian Edwards said that in recent weeks, Dollo Ado has been receiving a weekly average of 450 new Somali refugees and a total of more than 8,500 refugees have been registered so far this year due to insecurity and last year’s famine in Somalia.

Meanwhile, heavy rains in mid-April damaged an estimated 700 tents in Dollo Ado and the access road to one of the camps has been flooded, which has slowed down the delivery of services, including water provision.

UNHCR staff has been providing replacement tents to families whose shelters were completely destroyed by the wind and rain, and the agency has met partners to work on rehabilitating the road and maintaining access to the camp, Edwards added.

UNHCR statistics showed that decades of conflict and drought have driven nearly 983,000 Somali refugees into the region, most of them hosted in Kenya, Yemen and Ethiopia while another 1.36 million Somalis are displaced within the country.

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