Help Kenya manage Somalia crisis, US pleads

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 15 – US Deputy Secretary of State Dr Reuben Brigety on Friday hailed Kenya for accepting to open the Ifo II refugee camp but urged donors to support her to take care of the swelling number of refugees.

Speaking at a press conference at the US Embassy, he said the situation was already getting out of hand and it was likely to get worse even if it rained the next season.

“The situation is grave… the conditions of people coming across the border is severe. We are very grateful to the hospitality of people of Kenya for the refugees. We anticipate this crisis will get worse before it gets better. Even if in the next season the rains come on time it is unlikely they will produce any food crops early next year,” he predicted.

He described the famine and the food crisis in Somalia as one of the worst since 1951.

He feared that the food shortage would also get worse as more people will be affected by the drought which also meant that refugee camps in Kenya will as well remain an eyesore for longer than expected since Somali refugees were entering in the country in their thousands.

Kenya which already does not have the capacity to feed its own people especially in the North Eastern parts where famine has descended is already overwhelmed by lack of food bringing in the controversial debate over genetically modified food.

Despite calling for humanitarian intervention, he stressed on the key solution of ending the political impasse in Somalia which he believed was a core factor that made the situation even more unbearable.

He said it was unfortunate that so many people were dying due to the unbearable conditions of hunger and poor living conditions posed by the violence and the famine.

Dr Brigety singled out peace as one of the long-term interventions that will win stability in the East African region.

Though there were people who required aid inside Somalia, he raised security concerns presented by the Al-Shabaab militia who have threatened humanitarian interventions.

He felt that though they had announced that they would allow such assistance there was no surety of the security of the humanitarian actors.

“We are aware that they have recently said they want international actors to deliver food aid, that is a position that I think we all have to consider very carefully,” he said.

He said unless there was security for humanitarian actors and those receiving aid, it will be hard for those suffering in Somalia to get help.

The camp, which Prime Minister Raila Odinga ordered to be opened on Thursday, is expected to cater for about 40,000 people to help ease the over-crowding at the Dadaab camp located at the Somali-Kenya border.

The Dadaab camp has an extra 240,000 refugees in addition to the 90,000 capacity, which has created a growing humanitarian crisis at the facility.

JUDIE KABERIA

JUDIE KABERIA

Judie, a Special Projects Reporter started practicing journalism in 2003. She has worked in Kenya and Germany. Judie has scooped awards in Reproductive Health, Population, Gender and Development. She has participated in international conferences in Germany, Switzerland and Netherlands. Judie has written a booklet, 'Justice and Peace in the Kenyan Eye'. She has a soft spot for human rights, crime, peace and justice stories. She has a Master's Degree in New Media, Governance and Democracy, University of Leicester (U.K).