UN and Kenya attacked over $60m Somali refugee camp that still stands empty

 

Nairobi

The United Nations and the Kenyan government have come in for a fresh round of criticism for the continued closure of a multimillion-pound refugee camp that has been left empty despite the deepening humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been accused of misdirecting the media by renaming scrubland adjacent to empty facilities, rather than sealing a deal with Kenya to open up a camp that cost international donors $60m (£37m) to build and has been left locked since November last year. On a visit last month, the Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the camp would be opened by 24 July.

"To the thousands of desperate Somalis arriving every day, the sight of a fully equipped refugee camp standing empty must be the ultimate rebuke," said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. The New York-based watchdog called on the Kenyan government to immediately open up the extra camp adjacent to the existing Dadaab complex of refugee camps in northern Kenya, which now shelters 440,000 people.

Despite massive overcrowding at Dadaab, a new camp called "Ifo 2" has been left locked and empty throughout the crisis. The UNHCR's decision to relocate famine refugees to scrubland near Ifo 2 – slated for a future site – and rename the whole area "Ifo extension" has led to confused reports suggesting the new camp was in operation.

William Stirling, a UNHCR official, confirmed that the camps have "still not opened" but denied misleading the media. Further confusion has been caused by conflicting statements from the Kenyan government, which followed last month's visit by Mr Odinga when he said that Ifo 2 would be opened on "humanitarian grounds".

However, Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki reportedly told Jill Biden, wife of the US Vice-President Joe Biden, who visited earlier this week, that Somali famine victims should be helped on the other side of the border instead of flooding into Kenya. There are divisions in the Kenyan cabinet over allowing refugees to be housed in proper buildings at Dadaab with some ministers arguing it will encourage new arrivals and pose a security threat.

Humanitarian agencies at Dadaab have been frustrated by UNHCR's refusal to admit it has no agreement on Ifo 2 with the Kenyan government. "They would rather move surreptitiously than bite the bullet," complained one aid worker.

UNHCR officials have attempted to play down the difference between the Ifo 2 camp and the overflow area to where thousands of refugees have been moved. "I don't see a huge difference between the sites," said Mr Stirling who added that refugees would be accommodated in tents at either location and that water and sanitation was being provided.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions