Refugees in Kitale camp stay longer due to lack of space in Kakuma
What you need to know:
- The Kitale transit camp is meant to serve as a holding point before the refugees are transferred to the main refugee camps
- Government officials have revealed that there has been an abnormal increase in the number of refugees entering Kenya this year
- Kenya is at loggerheads with Uganda over the growing number of refugees fleeing the country into Kenya, leading to the current crisis
More than 1,600 refugees being hosted at Kitale ASK Holding Grounds will have to stay longer due to lack of space at Kakuma Refugee camp in Turkana, officials have said.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says it is working with the government and stakeholders to make space in Kakuma before they are moved there.
The crisis at the overcrowded Kitale camp comes as government officials revealed that there has been an abnormal increase in the number of refugees entering Kenya this year compared to previous years.
Nation.Africa has learnt that the Kitale transit camp is meant to serve as a holding point before the refugees are transferred to the main refugee camps.
Starved to death
The crisis in Kitale, where a child recently died of starvation, comes at a time when Kenyan authorities have admitted that they are facing a critical shortage of space to accommodate the increased arrival of refugees from war-torn Central African countries.
More than 1,600 refugees from the war-torn countries of Congo and Burundi are in the Trans Nzoia transit camp, having previously been in refugee camps in Uganda.
Mr John Burugu, the National Commissioner for Refugees, said plans were at an advanced stage to resolve the standoff and ensure the refugees' transit to Kakuma.
Mr Burugu, however, noted that Kenya was also at loggerheads with Uganda over the growing number of refugees fleeing the country into Kenya, leading to the current crisis.
He said more than 8,000 refugees have poured into Kenya since January after facing a humanitarian crisis in Uganda, where they reportedly lacked basic necessities.
"We are working on logistics and engaging stakeholders on where to settle them because Kakuma is currently full and cannot accommodate more refugees," the Commissioner said after visiting the Kitale camp.
Mr Burugu led teams from UNHCR, the Kenya Red Cross and the Trans Nzoia County government to assess the humanitarian situation of the refugees and said the families would continue to live at the Kitale camp until a suitable resettlement plan is in place.
"As a government, we need more time to plan and create space in the refugee camps that are currently hosting over 256,000 asylum seekers," said Mr Burugu.
"The group here in Kitale is in dire need of medical attention, especially children and pregnant mothers. We are working with the county government to provide them with medical services," said Dr Michael Ayabei of the Kenya Red Cross.
Maltreatment in Uganda
Refugees in the Kitale transit camp claimed that some officials in the Kiryandongo settlement refugee camp in Uganda were using them to enrich themselves, causing them to flee to Kenya.
"We were living in very inhumane conditions and we thought we would all die if we didn't run away. We believe we will have a better life here," said Ms Kapou from Goma, Congo.
UNHCR Kenya Country Representative Caroline Van Buren said it was working with a multi-agency team of other stakeholders to ensure the refugees were settled.