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Kenya to allocate land to establish a new refugee camp

Briefing notes

Kenya to allocate land to establish a new refugee camp

6 February 2009

The Kenya government has agreed to allocate land to accommodate the increasing numbers of Somali refugees who are fleeing to Kenya to escape the escalating conflict in their country. Deputy High Commissioner Craig Johnstone just returned this morning from a three-day mission to Kenya. In a meeting with Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Mr. Johnstone received a firm commitment that the government would provide land for establishment of a new refugee camp in north-eastern Kenya to take the pressure off the sprawling and overcrowded Dadaab refugee complex.

Dadaab, which was designed for 90,000 people, now has a population of about a quarter of a million, making it one of the world's largest and most congested refugee sites. Mr. Johnstone warned that the camp was now at breaking point.

UNHCR and local Kenyan authorities have already identified and surveyed 2,000 hectares of land in Fafi, in Garissa District, south of Dadaab. We estimate the site could host 50,000 people. Mr. Johnstone pledged that new camp will be an environmental model, which will carefully balance the demands of the refugees and the locals.