Kenya: Somalia Refugees Situation Report No. 3

emergency appeal no. 01.04/96 situation report no. 1 period covered: January - February 1996
Living conditions at the Red Cross camp for Somali refugees in Swaleh Nguru camp have deteriorated sharply due to an influx of over 5,000 unregistered refugees who fled there after the Kenyan governments closure of Marafa camp in December 1995. International Federation and Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) teams are battling to provide additional water, sanitation and health facilities for the new arrivals, while continuing to wait for UNHCR and the Kenyan government to decide whether these refugees can be officially registered at the camp. Red Cross services at the other camps at Jomvu and Hatimi continued to run smoothly in the first two months of 1996, but its support operations for the rest of the year are threatened by the negligible amount of funding received so far from international donors. The Federation appeals to donors to continue their assistance to Somali refugees in 1996 until all have been safely resettled elsewhere or finally returned home.

The context

The Federation/KRCS support operation for Somali refugees has been running since February 1992, soon after their initial arrival in Kenya. The support services include camp management, distribution of food and non-food items, preventive and curative health care and the provision of social services (education, mental health, physical therapy and vocational training). At the beginning of 1995 the Federation/KRCS shared responsibility for managing five camps holding 100,000 refugees on the Kenyan coast, but by the end of the year the number of camps had been reduced to three and the refugee population had fallen to 25,000.

Latest events

In 1995, more than 52,000 refugees living in Kenya finally left the country. Some 42,000 of these were Somalis returning home in UNHCR-organised road convoys, ships and air charters costing more than 166.5 million Kenyan Shillings (CHF 3.5 million). In addition, approximately 3,300 Ethiopian, 1,000 Ugandan and 240 Rwandan refugees opted to return home, while more than 6,000 refugees were resettled to third countries, including the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

After the closure of Marafa, between 500 and 600 refugees refused to leave the camp, so on 24 January Kenyan police forcibly removed the remaining occupants. Over 198 refugees were transported to Dabaad by UNHCR, while several hundred vanished, eventually finding their way to Swaleh Nguru and increasing the unregistered population in that camp to over 5,000. As a 20 March 1996

result of this influx, there has been a significant increase in security problems, a sharp deterioration of health and sanitation conditions inside and outside the camp due to over-crowding, and a lack of food. Red Cross staff have become increasingly concerned at the situation in Swaleh Nguru and so have asked UNHCR to convene a meeting with WFP and the Kenyan government to discuss these issues and establish a viable policy on the unregistered population.
All remaining structures (other than permanent buildings) in Marafa were demolished by the Kenyan government and UNHCR reports that the local government continues to apply pressure to have all camps on the coast closed as soon as possible. This local resolve has stiffened recently due to the increased number of unregistered refugees moving into Swaleh Nguru. The Kenyan government announced a proposal that refugees not be allowed to enter Mombasa without a travel permit, and should a refugee be caught without such a permit, he or she would be arrested and deported. But to date, this proposal has not been implemented.

However, the degree of anger and tension within the refugee community as a result of these pressures was tragically highlighted when three refugees (in separate incidents) set themselves on fire in protest over alleged mistreatment by UNHCR. Two of the refugees were Ethiopians and one of them died from his injuries.

Red Cross/Red Crescent action

Official Red Cross camp population figures for the first two months of the year were as follows:

Swaleh Nguru

However, a Red Cross nutritional survey estimated that the real population of Swaleh Nguru is 15,500 at present the balance being unofficial refugees.

Food and Non-Food Distributions In both January and February no WFP maize was available for distribution so a double ration of wheat flour (400g per person/per day) was given to the refugees. There was also a shortage of beans in February, which resulted in a reduction of the ration size from 50g to 25g per person/per day. According to WFP, stocks of vegetable oil are virtually depleted and some camps will face a shortage in the coming months (possibly as early as May). Due to the continued difficulties encountered by WFP in releasing stocks of sugar impounded at Kenyan ports, the next distribution of sugar is also likely to be the last.

The amounts of food distributed to 18,549 refugees for the first two months of 1996 were as follows:

January (mt)
February (mt)
Vegetable Oil

In January, the International Islamic Relief Organisation distributed rice, flour, vegetable oil, dates and sugar to the refugees of Swaleh Nguru camp (though outside the camp perimeters and in contravention of the policy established by the Ministry of Home Affairs and National Heritage that all donations of food aid which has been granted duty-free import must be distributed as part of the established food distribution and ration system).

One hundred bags (90 kg each) of charcoal were distributed to 100 families in Swaleh Nguru by Red Cross teams, while plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, soap and used clothing (two bales per camp) were also handed out to the most vulnerable in Hatimi and Swaleh Nguru.

Logistics Two new field vehicles donated by the German Red Cross have arrived and are awaiting clearance by the Operational Support Unit (OSU) in Nairobi. These vehicles will replace two others which will be rotated out of the fleet because they are no longer cost effective to run. With the scaling down of the Somali refugee support operation, a needs analysis has just been completed and several vehicles identified for release to the National Society (as per an earlier agreement) and to the OSU for other operations within the region.

Medical The number of malaria cases and deaths have increased in Swaleh Nguru camp since late December 1995, prompting the Red Cross medical department to begin health education campaigns covering oral medication, environmental hygiene, malaria prevention and the importance of seeking health care at the onset of an illness. This was followed by meetings with elders, private health practitioners and the womens committee to solicit their support for educating the communities on the importance of following Red Cross guidelines on malaria treatment. In January, 1,257 cases of malaria were treated (13 deaths were reported), which fell sharply in February to 967 cases and 10 deaths.

The number of patients seen in the Red Cross camp clinics at Utange and Jomvu are as follows:

TB cases

The presence of thousands of unofficial refugees has imposed severe strains on Red Cross budgets for drugs, medical supplies, water, sanitation and social services. The sometimes fierce demands for assistance have also occasionally erupted into physical assaults on humanitarian workers, in turn resulting in upgraded security procedures in the camp.

Meanwhile, a house-to-house nutritional survey in Swaleh Nguru in February revealed a fall in the nutritional status of children under five years (with an overall malnutrition rate of 7.9% compared to 5.1% in Swaleh Nguru in January 1995 and 6% in Marafa in June 1995). The survey estimated that of the 890 children under five in the camp, 61 were less than 80% weight for height and ten were severely malnourished, being less than 70%weight for height. The survey recommended that a therapeutic feeding programme be started for severely-malnourished children and a buffer stock of food items made available to the Red Cross health and social services departments to give to familie at risk. This deterioration appears to be entirely due to the influx of refugees from Marafa, because nutritional levels amongst children in Jomvu and Hatimi has improved since last October (with only 11 and six children respectively still requiring nutritional care).

In January, another study identified a desperate need for social and medical rehabilitation services in Jomvu camp. The report (with budget projections) has been forwarded to UNHCRs medical and social services co-ordinators for consideration. The following month, a separate report focusing on improvements to the existing provision of care for HIV/AIDS patients concluded that all HIV positive cases should be relocated to Kakuma and that those people in the advanced stages of the infection should be given shelter, special food, as well as supplementary feeding from an agency still to be identified.

Water, Sanitation and Construction Water supplies to all camps were adequate and of safe quality. The commercial trucking in Jomvu camp was reduced following the re-deployment of a Red Cross water tanker after the completion of maintenance and repairs which makes two journeys per day from Swaleh Nguru to Jomvu (carrying 28,000 litres in total). In Hatimi, well operations were also restored.

Sanitation conditions in Swaleh Nguru camp continue to deteriorate due to the impact of unregistered refugees from Marafa camp and Nairobi district. To try to improve these conditions, seven sites have been fenced in to keep garbage from spreading, construction of a 28-person toilet block is underway and improvements are being made to the drainage capacity of the existing toilet systems. To assist in these modifications, three more sanitation workers were hired by the Federation/KRCS. In Jomvu, all the toilet blocks have been renovated and UNHCR is planning to construct an additional 20 shelters for ex-Marafa refugees, which will partly alleviate the acute housing problem for new residents.

Social Services At the beginning of the year, the Red Cross social services department began to merge its services within the medical and relief sectors of the programme. So far, this merger has been running smoothly.

While schools re-opened on 8 January, there were low levels of enrolment in the first two months, though this is expected to pick up in March with the end of Ramadan and the launching of a campaign to encourage children to go to school.
Due to the fear and anxiety caused by the ongoing uncertainty about their future in Kenya, the number of refugees seeking counselling by Red Cross staff and volunteers remains high. A special committee was also formed to help address the problems and meet the needs of the handicapped inhabitants of the camps.

The Hatimi Community Centre was formally inaugurated in January and two bales of clothing distributed to vulnerable people.

KRCS staff also organised the first Womens Conference where Social Issues of Concern to Women were discussed in five workshops in Hatimi and Swaleh Nguru camps between 28 February and 8 March.

Refugees Assisted
Mental Health
Physical Rehabilitation
Refugees Education
Adult Literacy

Personnel Training and Development The Federation and KRCS relief, logistics, medical and social services departments have jointly identified specific areas of training and development for KRCS staff during the 1996 fiscal year. These areas cover general management skills; stress management and conflict resolution; resume writing and interview skills; time-management; and drivers training. Courses will be held to build and strengthen staff skills in their current positions, while at the same time preparing them for the new job market pending the closure of the camps.

The existing staff structure at the beginning of 1996 was as follows:

Federation Delegates
Federation Local Staff
KRCS Staff (Contract)
KRCS Staff (Temporary)
GOK Staff (MoH)
Refugee Volunteers

Outstanding needs

The issue of unregistered refugees in Swaleh Nguru camp must be addressed by the Kenyan government and UNHCR soon. This group of refugees should either be relocated to Dabaad camps in north-eastern Kenya; or officially registered and receive appropriate shelter and ration cards. If this is not decided quickly, the health and security of both refugees and humanitarian staff will be threatened.

Funding or in-kind donations of soap and charcoal (or another cooking fuel) needs to be identified urgently because UNHCR which normally supplies these needs does not have funding for the project this year.

See Annex 1 for details.emergency appeal no. 01.04/96 situation report no. 1

Helga Leifsdottir Bekele Geleta Desk Officer Director Africa Department Africa Department