Global perspective Human stories

UN refugee agency airlifts emergency shelter into Kenya

UN refugee agency airlifts emergency shelter into Kenya

UNHCR aid is offloaded from the Boeing 747 at Nairobi
Ahead of March rains, the United Nations refugee agency is bringing 5,000 tents to Kenya for use by tens of thousands of people driven from their homes by the violence that has gripped the east African country since December’s contested elections.

Half the tents, which are light in weight and large enough for families, were flown in Friday from the Dubai stockpiles of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The others were being shipped from Dubai to the Kenyan port of Mombasa.

“We hope to deliver these tents to the most affected displaced people before it starts to rain next month,” said Alice Ballah-Conteh, head of UNHCR’s emergency response team in Nairobi. Kenya has two rainy seasons, with the first running from March to May.

This is the second airlift of aid to Kenya by UNHCR since violence erupted in western parts of the country after the 27 December presidential and parliamentary polls. A first flight on 17 January brought in 19,600 bales of plastic sheeting to be used for shelter, 40,000 mosquito nets and 15 generators.

In addition, since early January, UNHCR has distributed 10,000 family kits, 758 tents and 50,000 sanitary towels in parts of the country hit hardest by the violence, such as Rift Valley Province and Nairobi.

“With the current calm being experienced in Kenya, UNHCR expects to reach many parts of the country that could not be accessed earlier due to insecurity,” said Ms. Ballah-Conteh.

Tens of thousands of Kenyans are still living in more than 200 sites for internally displaced people (IDP) across the country. More than 80,000 IDPs, meanwhile, have moved back to their rural home areas, with many living with relatives or friends.

This is putting a strain on the resources of those hosting them, UNHCR said.