Kibaki: Refugee problem a concern for Kenya

President Kibaki (second right) in a group photo with Dr Jill Biden Wife of US Vice President Joseph Biden (second left), Senator Bill Frist (left) and Prime Minister Raila Odinga (right) at Harambee House August 8, 2011. PPS

President Kibaki has called on the international community to appreciate Kenya’s predicament and the pressure the nation was experiencing by hosting over half a million Somali refugees.

Appealing to the international community to swiftly intervene in the current drought ravaging in the horn of Africa region, President Kibaki stated that Somali refugees need to be settled inside their country and be given food and other forms of support they may require.

He said Kenya would offer support to the setting up of feeding camps inside Somalia.

The President, who made the remarks Monday at his Harambee House Office when he held discussions with US Vice-President's wife Dr Jill Biden, noted that such an arrangement would make things much easier and convenient for all actors involved in the unfolding calamity.

The Head of State categorically stated that the refugees entry to Kenya is not helping the situation neither is it a long-term solution.

Noting that the drought affected a population estimated at 10 million people, President Kibaki appreciated the support extended by the United States of America in efforts to cushion the suffering people and to normalise the situation.

He emphasised that long term measures needed to be explored to avert recurrence of such tragedies.

The Head of State reiterated Kenya’s commitment to hosting a concerted international conference to discuss critical issues of concern in the horn of Africa region especially the current drought as well as peace and security.

On her part, Dr Biden noted with concern that the situation on the ground was grave and pledged support of the US government in instituting measures to mitigate the severe human suffering.

She affirmed that there was urgent need to implement both short term and long term measures so as to address situation sustainably.

In short term, Dr Biden noted there was need to increase the volume of food aid, reduce the influx of more refugees and support be extended in Somali’s territory.

Dr Biden, who also visited Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, pledged support to strengthen the agricultural sector in he region through provision of farm inputs and modern research.

She also promised support in restocking programmes to farmers who lost their herds to the devastating drought.

Present were Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Special Programmes minister Esther Murugi, Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Muthaura, permanent secretaries from line ministries and other senior government officials.

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