Floods Maroon 120,00 In Kenya Refugee Camps

NAIROBI, Kenya (PANA) - Relief agencies in north-eastern Kenya have appealed for emergency aid for some 120,000 refugees marooned in flooded camps in the area, the Kenya News Agency reported Sunday.
A spokesman for the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees, Peter Kessler, said there could be a serious health problem at the Dadaab camps, situated in an area recently declared a disaster zone by the government, after nearly a month of unrelenting rains.

The floods, associated with the weather phenomenon, El Nino, have swept over the normally dry area and left at least 500 families in the camps without shelter. Worse, the area is inaccessible. Virtually all roads, including the Garissa-Dadaab-Somalia border road, the lifeline on which relief food is transported, have been reduced to a ranging river.

The Ifo Camp, 90 kilometres to the east of provincial capital, Garissa, is the worst hit. Hagdera, 100 kilometres to the east of
Garissa has been cut off. Half the town is flooded but is still habitable.

Garissa is 374 kilometres to the north-east of Nairobi, the nation's capital. Many homes and other structures in this camp have been flattened.

A few kilometres away the Dagahaley Camp is dry but surrounded by water. It can only be reached by four-wheel drive vehicles.

Officials have reported at least 50 deaths since the onset of the rains. Meteorologists forecast these will continue until January.

Reporters flown to the area Saturday by the U.N. agency saw human misery on a grand scale. Thousands of refugees, including children, looked hungry as they cried quietly for help.

Makeshift pit latrines have collapsed and human waste mixes freely with the water refugees must wade through to move around the camps.

Relief workers were busy trying to relocate the refugees, whose houses were swept away, to higher ground.

Kessler said the relief supplies at the camps could not last the next three weeks.

The situation is very ominous indeed, he said. We have sent a senior UNHCR officer to Geneva to solicit more funds and to
galvanise international support.

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