Close sites icon close
Search form

Search for the country site.

Country profile

Country website

Kenya: more Kakuma camp arson

Briefing notes

Kenya: more Kakuma camp arson

6 March 2000

Over the weekend, UNHCR and partner agency staff put out a large fire in the Kakuma camp in north-west Kenya. Saturday's blaze - the fourth suspected arson attack in the camp since January - caused no injuries but it destroyed an entire block in the Somali portion of the camp, before volunteers were able to bring it under control. More than 700 family shelters have been destroyed and 4,000 people displaced in the incidents.

Kenyan police have determined that residents of the camp, housing 84,000 mainly Sudanese, Somali (about 20,000) and Ethiopian refugees, have set the fires, which have all occurred in Somali sections. UNHCR has put vehicles at the service of additional police units deployed to stop the arsonists, and more water equipment has been put in place for fire fighting. Extinguishing the fires has been made more difficult by the prolonged dry season and high winds.

Police have so far made six arrests in the Somali refugee community. UNHCR staff, concerned that tensions within the Somali community blamed for the acts could cause more fires, continue to meet with Somali elders. An additional fear is that a future blaze might spread to areas housing other refugee groups, further heightening tension in the mixed camp.