Kenya: UN Steps Up Airlift to More Than 100,000 Flood Victims
New York, Nov 28 2006 1:00PM
The United Nations refugee agency is stepping up its airlift of emergency supplies for more than 100,000 Somalis made
homeless by massive flooding in Kenya’s Dadaab region, where they had sought shelter from drought and conflict in their
“Airlifts are now the only viable means of getting relief supplies to the camps,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told a news briefing in Geneva today, noting that three flights had taken off from
Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, since Friday, and two more were scheduled for today and tomorrow carrying plastic tarpaulins
and medical supplies.
There are concerns about the rise in malaria cases. More mosquito nets are being sent to hospitals. Diarrhoea and
malnutrition are also rising rapidly in Dadaab. Overall, the worst flooding in years is threatening up to 1.8 million
people in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.
Dadaab, a three-camp complex for 160,000 refugees, has been especially affected by heavy rains that washed away parts of
the Garissa-Dadaab road, the only one connecting the remote camp to Nairobi.
UNHCR and other agencies in Dadaab have started developing a new site in the higher part of Ifo, one of the camps in the
complex, in an effort to find a more permanent solution to the flooding problem. Around 1,000 refugees have already
moved to the new site.
Temporary services such as health clinics, communal latrines, water points and food distribution centres will be
constructed in the area. The distribution of food and supplies is ongoing with priority given to the most affected.
The Independent UN Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia Ghanim Alnajjar today warned that the floods there
have exacerbated the already serious humanitarian situation caused by drought and conflict.
“The rising flood waters are causing devastation to the Somali people and their livelihood and are hampering
humanitarian relief efforts,” he said in a statement, calling on the international community “to urgently and generously
assist strengthened flood relief efforts for Somalia.”
Last week, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) launched a regional air operation with fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters
to transport humanitarian workers and aid to more than 1 million people in flood-stricken areas of Somalia and Kenya.