Kenya: Four refugees killed as rains pound camp

from AllAfrica
Published on 03 May 2005
by Hussein Abdullahi

Nairobi, May 03, 2005 (The Nation/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) --A woman and her three sons died as rains pounded refugee camps in Dadaab, Garissa District, at the weekend.

Thirty other people were injured. The rains were accompanied by strong winds, which blew away more than 300 makeshift houses at Ifo, Hagadera and Dagahley refugee camps.

Aid workers yesterday dug out the bodies from the rubble for burial.

District commissioner Aloise Lentoimaga said Ifo health centre, run by the German agency GTZ, was badly damaged by the eight-hour rains and medicines worth thousands of shillings washed away.

Mr Lentoimaga, who chairs the district disaster committee, said the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and Government officials were moving 120,000 families to higher ground.

But lorries that were ferrying the families got stuck in the mud and the refugees loaded their belongings on donkeys.

There were fears for the safety of the drivers of five four-wheel drive vehicles from the DC's office who were taking some of the injured to Garissa Town. The drivers, who were to pass through flooded roads, were last contacted on Saturday.

Mr Lentoimaga said a team would be sent from Garissa to search for the five-vehicle convoy.

Reports said scores of goats, sheep and cattle were killed and famine was likely.

UNHCR officials were unable to reach the three camps to assess the damage because roads were badly damaged.

Several charter planes with UN and other aid agency officials had difficulty using the gravelled Dadaab airstrip, which was partly flooded.

The camps host about 150,000 Somali, Sudanese and Ugandan refugees.

In Nairobi, meteorologists said rains pounding Nairobi and other parts of the country would continue throughout the week.

Showers, thunderstorms and occasional morning showers are expected in the Lake Victoria basin, highlands west of the Rift Valley and Central Rift Valley (Kitale, Kakamega, Kisumu, Kisii, Kericho, Eldoret, Nakuru, Narok, Nyahururu).

Central Highlands, including Nairobi, Nyeri, Meru, Dagoretti and Embu, will be mainly sunny and get afternoon showers over few places.

The department said the rains would intensify after a week.

The forecast for the next four days showed that rainfall would increase over the western, southern and central Rift Valley (Nakuru, Narok, Nyahururu) and the Coast.

The assistant director, Mr Peter Ambenje, said extreme northern parts of the country, especially around Mandera and Moyale, would also continue receiving significant amounts.

But the central highlands and Nairobi are likely to have less rainfall in the next four days.

The south-eastern lowlands and much of the southern parts of the north-eastern areas (Wajir, Garissa) will be relatively dry, with only few areas recording some rainfall.

In the last four days, Mr Ambenje said, there was a significant increase in rainfall over much of the country, save for the south-eastern lowlands (Voi, Makindu, Machakos, Mwingi), which remained relatively dry.

The highest four-day rainfall totals were recorded in the central highlands and Nairobi that experienced low rainfall in much of April.

"Comparatively, this was the wettest week of April over these areas," Mr Ambenje said.

Leading in rainfall was Thika with a total of 135.4 mm. Wilson Airport had 96.1mm, while JKIA, Dagoretti, Nyeri, Meru, Embu and Moi Air Base had 89.1 mm, 78.3 mm, 71.1 mm, 64.1 mm, 62.2 mm and 58 mm respectively.

The department said more than 50,000 people had been displaced in Merti division of Isiolo North after rains pounded the area.

Additional reporting by Jeff Otieno