UNHCR transfers refugees made homeless by torrential rains in Kenya
KAKUMA CAMP, Kenya, Nov. 7 (UNHCR) - Relief workers Wednesday began transferring the first of thousands of refugees to a new site being built at Kakuma Camp in north-western Kenya following torrential rains that destroyed more than 7,000 huts and left 23,000 people homeless.
UNHCR said it had moved about 300 refugees to a location on slightly higher grounds in order to avoid further risks of flooding. Women and children have been sheltered in community centres for the past few days, and other residents had to temporarily share a home with relatives or fellow refugees.
Last week's unusually violent rains lasted for four days and left more than 23,000 people, or over one quarter of the total camp population of 81,000, without a home. The rains have now subsided and UNHCR staff on the ground reported that the camp area is drying quickly.
The refugees are helping to dig new latrines and plastic sheeting and other construction material is being distributed in order to start repairs on damaged homes.
On Wednesday, a team from the refugee agency and non-governmental organizations travelled to the camp to assess the health and sanitation situation. UNHCR is undertaking a global review of damages suffered by the camp in order to assess the immediate needs.
A programme to replace the existing traditional tukul huts of mud bricks and plastic sheeting with corrugated iron will be expanded. Kakuma, which houses 81,000 refugees, most of them from the Sudan, was opened 10 years ago, and many of the shelters are as old as the camp. Lack of funding has limited maintenance at the site over the years.
A food distribution programme scheduled for last week was delayed by the heavy rains but was resumed earlier this week and was scheduled to be completed Wednesday.
Two young refugee boys died during the storms. The body of one of the boys was found near the river, and it is believed he tried to cross it while the tide was high. The body of the second boy has not been found.