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Airlift for Kenya flood victims

Briefing notes

Airlift for Kenya flood victims

17 November 2006

On Sunday (Nov. 19), UNHCR will begin airlifting emergency supplies for thousands of refugees made homeless by massive flooding in Kenya's Dadaab region after heavy rains swept across the low-lying camps four days ago, wrecking homes and uprooting more than 78,000 refugees. A UNHCR-chartered twin-engine deHavilland C-8 Buffalo cargo aircraft will make three flights into Dadaab's airfield on Sunday from Nairobi to deliver 2,500 plastic tarpaulins, emergency health kits and 7.2 tonnes of fuel. Sunday's initial delivery of supplies is critical since there is a desperate need for plastic tarpaulins to help refugees reconstruct their shelters.

If roads in the region remain impassable, UNHCR expects to mount further flights next week to get more emergency supplies into Dadaab, where three refugee camps close to the border with Somalia shelter more than 160,000 mainly Somali refugees, including more than 30,000 people who fled the ongoing fighting and chaos in Somalia over recent months. This week's floods washed away much of the road leading to Dadaab from the provincial capital at Garissa, completely isolating the massive camps in remote eastern Kenya.

Aid workers in the camps will distribute some supplies, including tarpaulins, plastic sleeping mats and other items today to the worst affected refugees. Deliveries of supplies to the two worst affected camps from the main aid compound at Dadaab has not been possible until today due to the massive flows of water that have swept across the region. The sick and elderly will be given first priority in today's distribution due to limited stocks. Kenyans living around the refugee camps have also been affected and have approached UNHCR for assistance. In Dagahaley, UNHCR staff started using a mechanical digger to reinforce the dykes surrounding the camp to protect against further flooding. The UN World Food Programme is providing 20,000 sandbags to protect hospitals and clinics in Ifo and Dagahaley camps. Health workers report that diarrhoea cases are on the rise, but remain within acceptable limits. Ifo camp's hospital has been badly damaged by floods, necessitating moving some patients into less affected parts of the facility.