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UNHCR assistance for displaced Kenyans

Briefing notes

UNHCR assistance for displaced Kenyans

8 January 2008

UNHCR is providing relief supplies to tens of thousands of Kenyans displaced by the recent turmoil in the East African country, where we already care for more than 270,000 refugees from elsewhere in Africa. We're making available immediate non-food aid materials for up to 100,000 people. We have supplies for 50,000 people in our Nairobi warehouse and will bring in additional items from UNHCR's regional emergency stockpiles.

In addition, today we are shifting 24 tonnes of blankets and soap from our warehouses at Dadaab refugee camp, north-eastern Kenya, to Nairobi for onward delivery to displaced Kenyans. Trucks carrying the aid are expected to arrive in Nairobi tonight or tomorrow (Wednesday) morning. The stocks are kept in Dadaab for some 171,000 mainly Somali refugees in three camps there.

In Nairobi, meanwhile, staff at UNHCR's warehouse in the capital are preparing family kits containing items such as plastic sheeting for shelter, blankets, mats, mosquito nets and soap that will be distributed beginning this week.

UNHCR will work with the government, the Kenyan Red Cross and other humanitarian agencies in organizing distribution of the relief supplies. The operation is focused on displaced people in the Rift Valley and in areas around Nairobi.

UNHCR has a large refugee operation in Kenya, with over 200 staff caring for more than 270,000 refugees from surrounding countries - primarily South Sudan and Somalia - in remote camps in the north and east of the country. There are also urban refugees in Nairobi under UNHCR's care. Deputy High Commissioner L. Craig Johnstone has noted that Kenya has a long and generous record of providing refuge to those fleeing violence and persecution elsewhere in the region and it is distressing to see Kenyans themselves now displaced. UNHCR will do all it can to help alleviate their suffering.

To augment our existing staff in Kenya, we have sent an emergency team to help coordinate assistance to Kenyan displaced.

In neighbouring Uganda, meanwhile, UNHCR is working closely with the Ugandan Red Cross to make assistance available for Kenyans who have fled their homes over the past week. Some 3,000 Kenyans crossed the border at Lwakhakha, Malaba and Busia, and are staying with families or friends on the Ugandan side. We have made tents available at these three locations to house the most vulnerable. Refugees in Malaba and Busia have already received basic assistance from the Red Cross, including items such as blankets and kitchen sets. The Ugandan Red Cross is also carrying out registration of refugees.

Kenya provides a vital lifeline for the flow of aid supplies to our refugee camps in the country, as well as to UNHCR-assisted refugee populations in Southern Sudan, Somalia, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. It is imperative that safe and unhindered access to needy populations be maintained.