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Kenya: Kakuma camp

Briefing notes

Kenya: Kakuma camp

27 June 2003

Northern Kenya's three Kakuma area refugee camps were reported calm for a third straight day today following nearly a week of fighting between armed Turkana and Sudanese refugees. We are, however, worried that a brief skirmish last night between paramilitary forces and local Turkana may dampen refugees' willingness to return to the Kakuma III site, which was most affected by the conflict. The security forces were deployed to the area early this week.

Paramilitary soldiers last night had a shoot - out with armed Turkana, some of whom were thought to be out to loot property left behind by refugees now displaced in other areas of Kakuma. One Turkana man was killed in the incident. Police arrested one suspect and recovered guns from others during the incident.

In the meantime, the number of displaced refugees encamped in public areas such as schools and churches in Kakuma I and II has risen to an estimated 14,000 - up from some 8,000 two days ago. This figure represents nearly 50 per cent of Kakuma III's recently displaced population of 30,000. Numbers are rising as refugees who had earlier sought refuge among friends in other areas of the camps are now going to public areas where they can receive emergency aid.

Since Wednesday, UNHCR and partners have been providing emergency assistance to the displaced. Mobile clinics continue to be operated close to the displaced refugees. Although services at the main hospital have been fully resumed, the number of daily consultations has remained low as refugees remain fearful of leaving their homes. Partner NGOs have set up kitchens and are providing cooked food for children and other vulnerable refugees among the displaced. We have resumed normal water supply to many parts of Kakuma I and II. In addition, some 14,000 litres a day are being transported by truck for the displaced who are encamped in schools and other public buildings.

Local Turkana elders and refugee leaders continue to talk to their communities to maintain peace and stabilise the situation in Kakuma. A week of fighting triggered by a dispute between the local residents - the Turkana - and some Sudanese refugees over missing cattle left 11 people dead, nine refugees and two Turkana. The conflict displaced some 30,000 refugees in Kakuma III, and paralysed services, including medical care and food distribution, for several days. In total, nearly 86,000 refugees reside in the three Kakuma camps.