Relief SCENE:Drought
Kibaki Decries Worsening Refugee Crisis
He Says Dadaab Refugee Camp is Overcrowded, a Threat to Security
By ABDIKAFAR HOSH 09/10/2011
President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya Opening the Summit of the Head of States
Somalia Report
President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya Opening the Summit of the Head of States
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki on Friday expressed his displeasure over the influx of fleeing Somali refugees into camps in northern Kenya.

Speaking at the two-day Horn of Africa crisis summit held in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, to respond to the massive humanitanitarian crisis engulfing the region, Kibaki said the high numbers of Somalis seeking refuge in the East African country, were unbearable as the Dadaab refugee camps were overcrowded and stretched to capacity.

The Kenyan leader explained that the situation was being exacerbated by Somalia’s long standing conflict. Dadaab is now home to more than 400,000 Somali refugees becoming the world's largest refugee camp.

“Currently the influx of refugees into Kenya has risen sharply over the last couple of months, with an average of over 1,500 refugees per day,” he said.

President Kibaki said the huge number of the Somali refugees posed a genuine security threat not only to Kenya but also to the region.

“It has become more difficult to control the smuggling of small arms and light weapons into neighboring countries,” he said.

He added that it has also been a challenge for authorities to effectively deal with cross-border crimes, illicit trade and other criminal activities, including the infiltration of the al-Shabaab insurgents.

Kibaki urged the international community to pay special attention to the war-torn Horn of African country, saying some 4 million Somalis were in dire need of emergency assistance.

“This situation is aggravated by the fact that Somalia remains in the throes of conflict,” he stated.

The president commended Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) for co-operating with regional governments and the international community in its quest to re-establish a central government and promote peace and stability in the bullet-ridden country.

While addressing the meeting, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the Transitional Federal Government’s President, said the famine engulfing parts of southern Somalia had led to the collapse of the socio-economic institutional networks in the country.

He applauded Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia among other African nations for hosting and assisting the Somali refugees who had fled to their respective countries.

“We are aware that the Horn of Africa has sufficient natural resources that can make it possible to produce enough food and export to the rest of the word. On behalf of my government, we feel sorry that people are dying of hunger and famine,” he said.

He also pointed out that conflict and civil war that have ravaged Somalia for the last two decades had led to the destruction of key infrastructure such as roads, hospitals and educational institutions, hence increasing the effects of famine and hunger in the country.

“Lack of education is part of the difficulties we are facing in Somalia and we are aware that the people are not only dying of hunger but also dying of infectious diseases,” he said.

Youngest Nation Pledges

South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit pledged his country’s humanitarian assistance to the famine victims in Somalia.

“On regard, I re-affirm our earlier commitment to contribute $1 million to assist the victims in Somalia,” he said.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said his government was hosting a large group of Somali refugees who had fled to Ethiopia in search of food and emergency humanitarian assistance.

“We are hosting more than 160,000 Somali refugees who have crossed into Ethiopia in search of food and water, but I have to say we are finding it difficult to cope with the continuing influx of refugees in these circumstances,” he said.

He urged the regional leaders from the Horn of Africa to support the TFG and the African Union Peacekeeping Mission (AMISOM) forces to reach more districts in the southern Somalia where the militant al-Shabaab fighters are in control, so as to create corridors for humanitarian assistance in the areas.

When Somalia Report asked Abdurrahman Omar Osman (Yariisow), the TFG spokesman, about the summit's importance to Somalia, he was exuded confidence, saying, "it was important for both the government and the people of Somalia."

He applauded the Kenyan government for hosting the summit and inviting the regional heads of state and government and the international community in general to respond to the humanitarian crisis engulfing the Horn of Africa, including the famine in Somalia.