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Friday, February 6, 2009

New camp for Somali refugees

A new refugee camp is to be set up in some 2,000 hectares in Garissa, on land set aside by the government as the Dadaab camp is now overcrowded.

The international community and the government were concerned about the congestion at the camp, said Immigration minister Otieno Kajwang’.

He said the land, which is under the jurisdiction of the Garissa County Council, would be used to accommodate the refugees arriving in large numbers from war-torn Somalia.

The minister was addressing the press after Justice ministers from the Netherlands and his Immigration counterpart from Belgium met him to push for the expansion of the Dadaab refugee camp.

He said the ministers expressed concern over the refugees’ conditions of living but appreciated Kenya’s effort in hosting them. Mr Kajwang’ said the United Nations High Commission for Refugees had pledged $4 million to improve hospitals and schools, among other facilities, which the locals claimed were overstretched, leading to tension over pasture, water and medical care.

Transferred

The minister also announced that 50,000 refugees would be transferred to Kakuma camp to ease overcrowding at Dadaab. He said the community in North Eastern Province had been accommodating the refugees for many years and their generosity should not be taken for granted.

The minister said development arising from the funding would benefit Kenyans after Somalia stabilises, adding that the election of a new president, Mr Sheikh Ahmed, was a positive step.

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