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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

UN admits failures in Kenya camp

Refugees gather at a water tap in Dadaab
The water supply is not enough for all camp residents, officials say

One of the world's largest refugee camps fails to meet even the most basic standards, the UN has admitted.

More than a quarter of a million Somalis are crowded into the Dadaab camp in eastern Kenya having fled fighting in their own country.

Chronic overcrowding makes it difficult to help those in need, officials say, and Kenya is resisting expansion calls.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, is due to visit on Tuesday to discuss additional space.

The UNHCR, the UN's refugee agency, believes that with more than 6,000 new refugees arriving every month it has no choice but to expand the camp.

Unless you get more land you will have difficulties providing enough water
Bono Katandi
Senior operations manager

Dadaab is a collection of three sprawling tented cities on Kenya's sandy frontier with Somalia.

As Somalis lined up for their daily ration of food, one resident, Mohamed Shukra Shukra, told the BBC: "The problem is no water... no hospital, no food, it's a problem."

The UN said that when judged by its own standards it was clear the camp was failing.

Senior operations manager Bono Katandi said: "If you talk about health the standard is one health centre to 10,000 population.

"We're talking of 28,000. When you talk about water we're only getting less than 12 litres of water per person per day while the standard is 20 litres."

But the agency insists the problem is not of its making, the BBC's East Africa correspondent Peter Greste reports from Dadaab camp.

When the camp was built almost two decades ago it was designed for 90,000 refugees, but there are now more than three times that number.

Mr Katandi said more land was needed.

"Unless you get more land you will have difficulties providing enough water," he said.

"We will still have difficulties providing enough shelter. We'll still have difficulties providing enough health facilities within the location that they are now."


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