, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 24 – The government has now set aside some Sh9 billion for emergency relief programmes for hundreds of thousands facing starvation in Northern Kenya.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka on Sunday said the drought is committed to ensuring that Kenyan’s living in the affected areas do not to continue suffering as a result of the humanitarian crisis.
The Horn of Africa – Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti- is experiencing its worst drought in 60 years.
Nearly 11 million people, mostly nomadic pastoralists and farmers in south-central Somalia, north-eastern Kenya, and south-eastern Ethiopia, are severely lacking access to food.
The crisis currently affects 3.6 million people in Kenya, 4.5 million people in Ethiopia, 80,000 in Djibouti, and almost 3 million in Somalia
The crisis has been made worse by thousands of refugees fleeing the war torn Somalia to camps in Kenya.
Mr Musyoka said Kenya was working closely with the international community to assist those facing starvation, including Somali refugees in Kenya.
He said the assistance is however hampered by insecurity posed by Al-Shabaab militants who control areas around the common border.
“Insecurity in Somalia, particularly in areas controlled by the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab is a major hindrance to humanitarian operations, but we are committed to assisting those in dire need of famine relief assistance,” he said.
The Vice President was speaking at a Nairobi hotel when he held talks with visiting Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin Rudd.
The Australian Foreign Minister commended Kenya for her role in facilitating humanitarian operations for the famine stricken people of Somalia.
He assured that the Australian Government will identify areas in which to offer relief assistance to mitigate against the ravaging drought in the horn of Africa in collaboration with the World Food Programme and UNHCR.
Mr Rudd attributed the ongoing unpredictable weather pattern to global climate change that has also affected Australia with extreme weather conditions experiencing floods and droughts.
Last week, petitioned the African Union (AU) to step in and start relocating refugees in camps at the North Eastern Province to other countries to ease the congestion.
Assistant Minister for Internal Security Orwa Ojode told journalists on Thursday that the camps in Kenya were too congested and may soon be unable to take any more refugees.
“We have asked the AU to assist relocate the refugees to another country because our camps are becoming too congested,” he said. “This country can be Uganda, Tanzania or any other country in Britain. Anywhere.”
He said the government was also appealing to the international community to start building schools and providing food to refugees in Somaliland “instead of sitting and watch as they walk hundreds of kilometers to Kenya.”
“It is very unfortunate because many of them are even dying on their way. It is better to find a sustainable solution that can arrest the situation before it deteriorates and this includes getting them [refugees] to be in camps within Somali land where they can be able to be given food and other amenities which they come to look for here in Kenya,” he said, adding that lately “refugees are no longer fleeing war, they are fleeing hunger.”
Mr Ojode said the influx of refugees at the Kenyan side of the border was worsening by the day because there are at least 11,000 refugees crossing the border monthly.