Heavy rains kill boy, leave over 25,000 refugees homeless in Kenya
DADAAB, Kenya, May 3 (UNHCR) - Thousands of Somali refugees have been left homeless after heavy rains destroyed shelters in Dadaab camp, north-eastern Kenya. Food and relief items have been distributed amid fears of water-borne diseases and fuel shortage.
The torrential rains that hit last Thursday caused the majority of shelters in Ifo camp - one of three camps in the sprawling Dadaab complex - to collapse or wash away. A four-year-old boy was killed while three of his siblings were injured when their shelter collapsed under the pounding rain. More than 25,000 refugees are now homeless in the camp that hosts over 53,000 refugees, mainly from Somalia.
UNHCR staff in Dadaab who assessed the damage last Friday and Saturday reported that many of the affected refugees are facing serious health and shelter problems. Many pit latrines in the camps have collapsed, raising concerns of an outbreak of water-borne diseases. Many refugees have already moved to higher ground on their own.
A new cycle of food distribution has started in all the camps, and on Monday UNHCR and its partners started distributing additional relief items like blankets, tarpaulins, kitchen sets and soap to more than 1,000 of the most affected families.
"However, movement of staff within Ifo camp and UNHCR offices - some 5 km apart - is seriously hampered by impassable roads, many of them still waterlogged," said UNHCR spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis at a news briefing in Geneva on Tuesday. "The fear is that if rains continue, then the Garissa-Dadaab road, the single route linking the district headquarters in Garissa and the remote three-camp Dadaab complex, may be cut off."
She said the refugee agency is concerned that fuel stocks may run out unless new supplies are delivered to the camps. Most activities could come to a virtual standstill without fuel for vehicles, and generators for offices, hospitals and water pumps in the camps.
By Emmanuel Nyabera