1,000new refugees at Kenyan camp daily

May 7, 2011 9:44 am

, DADAAB, Jul 5 – Kenya’s already overcrowded Dadaab complex in June received 1,000 new refugees a day, five times more than a year ago, most of them fleeing drought in Somalia, aid workers said on Monday.

About 30,000 people arrived at the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya in June, according to the UN\’s refugee agency, compared to 6,000 in June 2010.

"We have registered a thousand people in one day," Idris Farah, the UNHCR\’s field co-ordinator at the camp told AFP.  "Clearly the situation is getting worse."

Dadaab, a complex of three settlements, is the world\’s largest refugee camp.  Built to house 90,000 people and home to more than four times that number, it was already well over its maximum capacity before this latest influx.

Most of the new arrivals are fleeing the drought that has affected the horn of Africa in the past few months and has seen thousands of people leave their homes in Somalia and travel hundreds of kilometres, often on foot, to Dadaab.

"Most of the children are malnourished on arrival," he said. "In fact the malnutrition rate has gone up in the last month."

Seventy-year-old Owilya Madey fled Somalia with her three-year-old granddaughter because of the food crisis in the lower Juba region.

"We went through a lot of problems," she told AFP from the Dagahaley hospital where her granddaughter was receiving treatment for malnutrition.

"When we were near the refugee camps our car was stopped so we had to walk from the border until we got here."

Upon arrival, along with thousands of others, she found a chaotic system that has seen new arrivals go days, even weeks, without food aid.

"We have nothing. We were not even given tents. We were just left outside. I can’t describe what we went through," she said.

The medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says thousands of the new arrivals, especially the children, are malnourished.

"It still takes too much time for refugees to get proper assistance," Antoine Froidevaux, MSF’s field coordinator in Dadaab told AFP. "The answer in terms of humanitarian aid is not satisfactory at all at the moment."

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