UN admits vital refugee camp for famine victims could stay closed


Almost two weeks after the Kenyan government was supposed to open a new refugee camp on the border with Somalia, the UN has admitted that it has no idea when it will be made available to victims of the famine.

Earlier this month Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga visited the area and said that the purpose-built camp, Ifo II, which has been available since November last year and has schools, clean water, latrines and brick houses, would be opened. But an ongoing political row means that the camp remains locked up, as The Independent reported on Monday.

Hundreds of starving refugees are being moved on to an alternative site, Ifo extension, which has none of those facilities. "We don't know when it will be open," William Spindler from the UN's refugee agency UNHCR said yesterday. "We hope soon, as the needs are huge." Despite frantic UN efforts over the last two days to dig latrines at Ifo Extension, "what we have is basically tents," Mr Spindler admitted.

In a separate statement, the UNCHR made no reference to the continued closure of Ifo II, instead thanking Kenya for its "incredible generosity". Meanwhile the medical charity MSF joined the criticism of the authorities over the saga. Alfonso Verdu, MSF's director of operations, asked: "Why is a camp that is clearly ready not being opened?"

The UN has shied from a row with Kenya, where the influx of refugees is becoming a political issue ahead of next year's elections. The Dadaab refugee complex – built with international aid money – was designed to house 90,000 refugees but now has nearly 400,000.

Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher for Human Rights Watch, said: "Faced with an unfolding humanitarian crisis, it took three years for Kenya to give the UN the green light to build a new small camp, and when it was ready it took another nine months for the Prime Minister to allow refugees to move there." He added: "Yet even now, it appears refugees cannot enter the new camp."

Rations on 'roads of death'

The UN will airlift emergency rations this week to parts of Somalia that militants banned it from more than two years ago – a crisis intervention to keep hungry refugees from dying along what an official calls the "roads of death".

The foray into the famine zone is a desperate attempt to reach at least 175,000 of the 2.2 million Somalis aid workers have not yet been able to help. But restarting the aid effort is a huge challenge for the World Food Programme (WFP). Fourteen WFP employees have been killed in Somalia since 2008.

The new feeding efforts in southern Somalia near the border with Kenya and Ethiopia could begin by tomorrow. AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk