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Kenya floods

Briefing notes

Kenya floods

3 May 2005 Also available in:

A 4-year-old boy was killed and three of his siblings injured when their shelter collapsed in heavy rains that pounded north-eastern Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp, leaving more than 25,000 Somali refugees homeless. A majority of refugees' shelters in Ifo - one of the three camps in Dadaab - collapsed or were washed away by torrential rains on Thursday, the same day the boy was killed.

On Friday and Saturday (29-30 April), UNHCR staff in Dadaab began assessing the damage. They reported that many of the affected refugees are facing serious health and shelter conditions and require immediate help, including possible transfer to drier areas. Many have already moved on their own to higher ground. But movement of staff within Ifo camp and between Ifo and UNHCR offices - some 5 km apart - is seriously hampered by impassable roads, many of them still waterlogged. There are fears that food distributed to the refugees 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. Ifo camp hosts more than 53,000 refugees, mainly from neighbouring Somalia.

UNHCR is also concerned about fuel stocks, which may run out unless new supplies are delivered to the camps. The fear is that if rains continue, then the Garissa-Dadaab road, the single route linking the District Headquarters, 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. There are also fears of an outbreak of water-borne diseases as large numbers of pit latrines in the camp have collapsed.