This is the first in a series of UNHCR emergency airlift flights to bring aid to uprooted Somalis in remote refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.
Speaking after offloading the cargo at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
UNHCR Public Information Officer Andy Needham said the batch containing 100 tonnes of family tents will then be transported by road to Dadaab on Tuesday.
“They arrived this morning at 9am and they have now been offloaded. Once they clear customs depart for Dadaab in a truck convoy on Tuesday,” Mr Needham said.
The tents he added will be distributed to about 2,300 families that are in most need of shelter including those that will be moved to the recently opened Ifo 11.
The officer disclosed that this is the first of five similar consignments that will arrive over the next few days.
The tents were airlifted from Kuwait with the subsequent flights expected to arrive from their stocks in Islamabad, Pakistan which will bring the stockpile to 6,600 tents to cater for the surging number of refugees in dire need of shelter at the camp.
“Another airlift of UNHCR aid supplies to Ethiopia is also set to begin as early as Monday. The airlift, which will deliver up to of 20,000 tents, will originate from UNHCR’s regional stockpile in Dubai and will deliver its cargo to Addis Ababa for onward delivery,” he said.
The airlifts will support UNHCR’s efforts to help more than 430,000 Somali refugees in Kenya and Ethiopia, including 164,000 who have arrived in the two countries since the beginning of the year.
Some 3,000 continue to arrive daily, fleeing continuing insecurity, drought and hunger in Somalia.
Last week, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres pledged the organisation’s full support to Kenya to help deal with the crisis.
Individual letters are said to have been sent to President Mwai Kibaki and the Prime Minister Raila Odinga promising to assist Kenya cope with the growing number of the refugees.
Mr Guterres welcome the opening of the new camp saying it would relieve the deteriorating conditions caused by congestion at the 1991 Dadaab camp.
UNHCR has indicated that there are 380,000 Somali refugees at the Dadaab camp which is supposed to cater for 90,000 refugees.
“Including those living on the camp outskirts the number of Somali refugees in and around the Dadaab camp has swollen to 380, 000,” a statement from UNHCR read.
The Dadaab camp is the largest, most congested and one of the remotest refugee camps in the world with a plot designed to be occupied by one family holding five families.
During his visit to the camp, the Commissioner had emphasised the need for aid workers to operate from Somalia.
However, UNHCR’s Ron Redmond said security is still a major concern for aid workers who many want to operate from Somalia.
“The commissioner said it was urgent that more assistance be brought inside Somalia but we will have to wait and see what the security assessment shows because without guarantees from all parties in charge of safety, it is very difficult for humanitarian aid to be provided,” Mr Redmond said of the concerns.
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