UN seeks $92 million to ease plight of Somalis taking refuge in Kenya

19 December 2008
Recently arrived Somali refugees in Dadaab, Kenya where conditions have become cramped

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today appealed for $92 million to ease the plight of some 250,000 Somalis living in one of the world’s oldest and most congested camps in Kenya and to meet the needs of new arrivals from the strife-torn nation.

Some of the camps in the 17-year-old Dadaab complex, located in remote eastern Kenya near the Somali border, are now three times their initial capacity, with thousands of new Somalis arriving each month, according to the agency.

“With the continuing conflict in their homeland showing no sign of abating, more than 60,000 Somalis have crossed into Kenya so far in 2008,” UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva, adding that most of them come from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and the Lower Juba regions of Kismayo, Jamame and Afmadow.

UNHCR is aiming to construct two new camps, which would each house up to 60,000 people, to ease the congestion in the three existing Dadaab sites, in addition to meeting the needs of new arrivals.

The funds sought will also be used for protection and legal assistance, food aid and the provision of basic household supplies.

Somalia, which has not had a functioning national government since 1991, has been plagued by fighting and humanitarian suffering for decades. Continuing instability, coupled with drought, high food prices and the collapse of the local currency have only worsened the dire humanitarian situation in recent months.

The UN estimates that some 3.2 million people, or 40 per cent of the population, are in need of assistance. In addition, over 1 million people in the country have been uprooted by violence, and thousands of people are displaced every week.


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