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July 15, 11

NEWS / UN welcomes opening of new camp for Somali refugees in Kenya

15 July 2011 –
The head of the United Nations refugee agency today welcomed the decision by Kenya to open a new camp set up to ease congestion in the Dadaab refugee settlement where an influx of people fleeing drought and conflict in Somalia has swelled the refugee population to nearly 380,000.

In separate letters to Prime Minister Raila Odinga and President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres applauded the decision to allow the opening of the camp and pledged the continued support of his agency (UNHCR).

The new camp, known as Ifo II, will be the fourth in the Dadaab areas in Kenya’s North-eastern Province, not far from the country’s border with Somalia. The three older camps, Dadaab, Dagahaley and Ifo were established in the 1990s to accommodate about 90,000 people, but the refugee population has steadily risen mainly because of almost constant violence in Somalia.

“UNHCR believes the opening of the [camp] extension is important for easing congestion at Dadaab, where some 1,300 Somali refugees have recently been arriving every day – fleeing conflict and drought in Somalia,” UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards told reporters in Geneva.

Mr. Edwards said UNHCR plans to begin a massive airlift at the weekend to bring additional tents and other relief supplies to the Dadaab refugee complex, which is spread over 50 square-kilometre area in the arid Kenyan region. Some 60,000 new refugees have arrived in Dadaab from Somalia since the beginning of the year.

The airlift, starting with a Boeing 747 flight carrying 100 tonnes of tents from UNHCR stockpiles in Kuwait, is expected to deliver its first consignment to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Sunday. It will be followed by at least six subsequent flights over the next two weeks from UNHCR’s stocks in Islamabad, Pakistan, which will bring in an additional 600 tonnes of tents in total.




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