UNHCR starts emergency airlift of tents to Kenya, Ethiopia

News Stories, 18 July 2011

© UNHCR/R.Redmond
Family tents arriving in Nairobi on the first UNHCR airlift are being rushed to Dadaab refugee complex in eastern Kenya.

NAIROBI, Kenya, July 18 (UNHCR) The first airlifts of UNHCR tents have arrived in Ethiopia and Kenya and are being rushed to the borders with Somalia to shelter thousands of emaciated Somali refugees fleeing conflict and drought.

On Monday, the first Boeing 747 flight chartered by the UN refugee agency arrived in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa with 2,100 tents from UNHCR's warehouse in Dubai. Further flights will bring additional tents, as well as vehicles and generators for the operation in Dollo Ado in southern Ethiopia, where some 75,000 Somalis have sought refuge since the beginning of the year.

In neighbouring Kenya, the first airlift also a Boeing 747 landed in the capital Nairobi on Sunday, carrying 100 tonnes of tents from UNHCR's stockpile in Kuwait. The 2,300 tents were loaded onto trucks and taken to the remote Dadaab refugee complex in eastern Kenya, where some 60,000 Somali refugees have arrived since January.

"Between Ethiopia and Kenya, we're receiving about 3,000 new refugees a day," said UNHCR spokesman in Nairobi, Ron Redmond. "Dadaab is absolutely packed, it's now four times the capacity it was built for, with 1,500 more refugees coming every day."

Dadaab is absolutely packed, it's now four times the capacity it was built for, with 1,500 more refugees coming every day.

Ron Redmond
UNHCR spokesman

Many of the refugees arrive emaciated from the drought and insecurity in Somalia, and exhausted after walking for weeks to reach aid. They receive immediate treatment and assistance, but the fast pace of arrivals is outstripping the capacity of host countries already suffering from the region's worst drought in 60 years.

Nonetheless, last week the Kenyan government announced that it would open a camp extension, Ifo II, to ease the congestion at Dadaab refugee complex. Authorities in Ethiopia are also setting up new camp, Hilowen, to host the newly-arriving Somali refugees.

In addition to the airlift of urgently-needed relief items, UNHCR is also deploying emergency staff for site planning, camp management, protection, community services and health. The agency has appealed for $136.3 million to meet the refugees' life-saving needs in Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya until the end of the year.

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Somalia Emergency: Urgent Appeal

Widespread malnutrition among Somali refugees requires immediate action.

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Crisis in Horn of Africa

Tens of thousands of Somalis are fleeing conflict and drought into Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Emergency Response

UNHCR is committed to increasing its ability to respond to complex emergency situations.

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Information brochure about UNHCR's Global Emergency Stockpile located in Dubai.

Flood Airdrop in Kenya

Over the weekend, UNHCR with the help of the US military began an emergency airdrop of some 200 tonnes of relief supplies for thousands of refugees badly hit by massive flooding in the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya.

In a spectacular sight, 16 tonnes of plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, tents and blankets, were dropped on each run from the C-130 transport plane onto a site cleared of animals and people. Refugees loaded the supplies on trucks to take to the camps.

Dadaab, a three-camp complex hosting some 160,000 refugees, mainly from Somalia, has been cut off from the world for a month by heavy rains that washed away the road connecting the remote camps to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Air transport is the only way to get supplies into the camps.

UNHCR has moved 7,000 refugees from Ifo camp, worst affected by the flooding, to Hagadera camp, some 20 km away. A further 7,000 refugees have been moved to higher ground at a new site, called Ifo 2.

Posted in December 2006

Flood Airdrop in Kenya

New Arrivals in Yemen

During one six-day period at the end of March, more than 1,100 Somalis and Ethiopians arrived on the shores of Yemen after crossing the Gulf of Aden on smuggler's boats from Bosaso, Somalia. At least 28 people died during these recent voyages – from asphyxiation, beating or drowning – and many were badly injured by the smugglers. Others suffered skin problems as a result of prolonged contact with sea water, human waste, diesel oil and other chemicals.

During a recent visit to Yemen, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Erika Feller pledged to further raise the profile of the situation, to appeal for additional funding and international action to help Yemen, and to develop projects that will improve the living conditions and self sufficiency of the refugees in Yemen.

Since January 2006, Yemen has received nearly 30,000 people from Somalia, Ethiopia and other places, while more than 500 people have died during the sea crossing and at least 300 remain missing. UNHCR provides assistance, care and housing to more than 100,000 refugees already in Yemen.

New Arrivals in Yemen

The Gulf of Aden: Sharp Rise in Crossings and Deaths

The number of people arriving on the coast of Yemen after being smuggled across the treacherous Gulf of Aden from the Horn of Africa has more than doubled this year. So far this year, more than 18,000 people have arrived in Yemen across the Gulf of Aden, and nearly 400 have died attempting the journey.

This surge in arrivals is largely due to the continuing conflict in Somalia and the use of new smuggling routes from Somalia to Yemen and across the Red Sea from Djibouti. Many of the new arrivals also tell of crop losses due to drought, which forced them to leave home. This photo set focuses on those people leaving from Djibouti.

UNHCR has been calling for increased action to save lives in the Gulf of Aden and other waters. We have stepped up our work in Yemen under a US$17 million operation that includes extra staff, provision of additional shelter and assistance, and protection for refugees and internally displaced people.

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The Gulf of Aden: Sharp Rise in Crossings and Deaths

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