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State to move 50,000 refugees to Kakuma camp

By | June 19th 2009

By Anne Kanina

The Government will transfer 50,000 refugees in Dadaab refugee camp to Kakuma camp.

Speaking during the refugee celebrations, Commissioner of Refugee Affairs Peter Kusimba said relocation was a strategy the Government was adopting to reduce population in the camp.

"Another strategy is expanding Dadaab camp, which will take time due to negotiations required with the host community," said Mr Kusimba.

However, Refugee Consortium of Kenya (RCK) Director Judy Wakahiu said a 50,000 reduction is meagre for a camp with an excess of 185,000 refugees.

"Dadaab should accommodate 90,000 refugees, but today has 275,000 refugees," said Ms Wakahiu.

Poor sanitation

She also said the 1,600km drive to Kakuma would cost the Government a lot with minimal reduction to the problem of congestion, poor sanitation, water and healthcare in Dadaab.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the refugee crisis was exposing refugees to more risks.

The March 2009 HRW report ‘From Horror to Hopelessness: Kenya’s Forgotten Somali Refugee Crisis,’ documented that the conditions in Dadaab were appalling because of overcrowding.

Wakahiu warned that the number of stateless people (orphaned refugees) was growing and their cases needed special attention because they cannot go back to their homes.

The UNCHR Assistant Country Representative Louise Aubin urged asylum seekers to report to their offices because they were working at streamlining the credibility of the asylum system.

Differentiating the genuine and fake refugees was termed as essential to ensure good service delivery.

Meanwhile, refugees living in Nairobi asked the Government to consider them when allocating the Muthurwa market stalls.

Their number is estimated to have grown to 100,000.

Kusimba said refugees in urban centres should be absorbed in various professions, thus become net earners and stop depending on local and international aid.

The Government allocation to support refugees has grown to Sh200 million from Sh16 million since the Refugee Act 2006

Kenya hosts nearly 350,000 refugees from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and the Great Lakes region.

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