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Floods in Kenya Kill Young Boy, Displace Thousands

Floods in Kenya Kill Young Boy, Displace Thousands of Somali Refuges – UN

New York, May 3 2005 11:00AM

Floods caused by driving rains have displaced 25,000 Somali refugees living in a camp in Kenya, killing a young boy and leaving three others injured, the United Nations refugee agency said today.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the 4-year-old was killed and his three siblings injured when their shelter collapsed in heavy rains that pounded north-eastern Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp last Thursday.

Most of the refugees’ shelters in Ifo – one of the three camps in Dadaab – collapsed or were swept away by torrential rains on the same day. Ifo hosts more than 53,000 refugees, mainly from neighbouring Somalia. There are fears of an outbreak of water-borne diseases as large numbers of pit latrines in the camp have also collapsed.

Over the weekend, UNHCR staff in Dadaab began assessing the damage and reported that many of the affected refugees were facing serious health and shelter conditions and required immediate help, including possible transfer to drier areas.

Many have already begun to move on their own to higher ground. But movement of staff within Ifo camp and between Ifo and UNHCR offices – some 5 kilometres apart – has been seriously hampered by impassable roads, many of them still waterlogged. UNHCR said it feared that food distributed a few weeks earlier has also been destroyed by the flood waters.

A new food distribution cycle has, however, begun in all of the camps. Yesterday, UNHCR and other agency staff started distributing additional aid items, including blankets, tarpaulins, kitchen sets and soap to more than 1,000 of the most-affected families.

UNHCR said it was also concerned about fuel stocks, which may run out unless new supplies are delivered to the camps. If rains continue, then the single route linking the district headquarters in Garissa and the remote three-camp Dadaab complex may be cut off. Fuel is needed to run vehicles and generators used in offices and the hospital, as well as for water pumps throughout the camp.

ENDS

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