Kenya Floods Briefing Notes 9 Dec 1997

News and Press Release
Originally published
This is a summary of what was said by the UNHCR spokesperson at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations.

Record-breaking floods continue to inundate northeastern Kenya's refugee camps, which remain isolated with all roads cut and food supplies set to run out completely at the end of December.

Staff in the camps report that mud-walled refugee homes are crumbling, with some 20,000 refugees in Ifo camp in need of new shelters. In the Dagahaley camp, also home to some 40,000 refugees, more than 5,000 refugees have been similiarly flooded out.

The flow of water in and around the camps is so strong that donkey carts - the main form of transportation for the refugees - cannot operate. Waters have again risen to 1.5 meters in some areas, making a transfer of refugees virtually necessary.

The sanitation situation is worrying. More than 2,600 latrines are reportedly flooded in the Ifo and Dagahaley camps. The refugees' domestic animals and poultry have also died, increasing the risks of water borne illnesses afflicting the refugees - particularly the children who swim in the waters flowing through the region.

To stem the floods, refugees have been issued with 20,000 burlap sacks to stave off the waters from settlement areas, water pumps, hospitals and food warehouses. Canals have also been dug in and around the camps to direct the water away.

All together, some 123,000 refugees are in the three camps - Ifo, Dagahaley and Hagadera - in Kenya's Northeastern Province about 100 kms from the Somali border. The provincial capital was hit by floods last week, and large portions of roads leading westwards to Nairobi have been washed-out.

UNHCR began flying fuel into Dadaab last week, so far delivering 17 metric tonnes to the camps to keep the fresh water pumps working. UNHCR is also purchasing 40 metric tonnes of high protein biscuits and sending in 5,000 plastic sheets from stocks in Nairobi for urgent distribution in the camps.