Kenya to Reopen Unused Refugee Camp in Dadaab

Posted July 15th, 2011 at 12:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Kenya has agreed to reopen an unused refugee camp in eastern Dadaab, as starving Somalis affected by a severe drought pour in from across the border.

The United Nations praised the move on Friday, saying it will ease rapidly growing pressure on existing camp sites at the sprawling refugee complex.

The United Nations says the refugee population in the Dadaab area has swelled to about 440,000, more than four times the number of people it was designed to hold.

Officials say about 60,000 refugees are now staying outside the camp grounds.

The unused Ifo Two camp is designed to house at least 40,000 people. The Kenyan government has said it will open in coming days but it is not clear exactly when.

U.N. officials and aid groups say thousands of Somalis are arriving in Dadaab every week after walking for days with little, if any, food or water. They say some are dying along the way or shortly after arriving.

Humanitarian groups warned Friday that still more aid and camp space will be needed to handle the crisis.

The U.N. has appealed for $136 million in additional aid to help refugees in Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

The Horn of Africa is experiencing its worst drought in six decades, sending thousands of Somalis who have no food into neighboring countries for help.