NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 20 – The UN’s refugee agency has appealed to the government to provide land to house the growing number of refugees in Dadaab camp.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Deputy Representative Antonio Kanyandula said the situation at the Northern Kenya site, which was designed to accommodate 90,000 refugees, is dire as it is now home to 270,000 people.
“Even if you wanted to build one more shelter, you really have to go to areas that are flood-prone or to those built as fire bricks so we have been requesting the government to look at that situation and see whether they can give us additional land,” he explained.
Although he said it would be difficult to estimate how much land would be enough, Mr Kanyandula said they would like land where each family can have a ‘standard’ space and still have room to put up social amenities such as dispensaries and schools.
“We have been shown a camp site of 2,000 acres but with standards for each family and environmental concerns taken into account, this piece of land can only be adequate for 120,000 people,” the official added.
The overcrowding at the camp, Mr Kanyandula said had brought with it various challenges which were hampering service delivery.
He expressed these organisations’ willingness to work together with the government to address the various concerns such as security that it may have.
“We are not experts on say security but we would certainly be willing to listen and engage in discussions on how you manage a refugee situation while at the same time cater for the security issues,” he added.
Mr Kanyandula spoke in Nairobi after celebrations to mark the World’s Refugee Day- a day aimed at raising global awareness of the plight of people who have been forced from their homes by war or political persecution.
Participants heard that at the end of last year, 42 million people across the globe had been uprooted from their homes.
80 percent of these refugees are in developing countries with the majority being the internally displaced.
“The total includes 16 million refugees and asylum seekers and 26 million internally displaced people uprooted within their own countries,” observes a new report dubbed ‘Global Trends’ by the UN refugee agency.
It also indicates that during the year (2008), there was a sharp slowdown in repatriation amid more prolonged conflicts resulting in protracted displacement.
The figure is however expected to rise in 2009, where there is already an increase in the number of people being forced out of their homes through conflicts.