Aid work curtailed at Kenyan camp

2011-10-14 15:30
Nairobi - The UN has temporarily suspended all non-lifesaving aid operations in the world's biggest refugee camp following the kidnapping of two Spanish aid workers near the Kenya-Somalia border, a spokesperson said on Friday.

Hundreds of staff have been confined to their offices, forcing the cancellation of services like education, counselling and relocation of families until further notice.

"Only water, food and health services are being maintained," said the UN refugee agency spokesperson Needa Jehu-Hoyah. "This will of course have an impact on the poor refugees."

In recent months, tens of thousands of refugees fleeing a spreading famine in southern Somalia have swollen the severely overcrowded camp. Most of the nearly half-million people in Dadaab, a sprawling, dusty wasteland about 80km from the Somalia-Kenya border, are refugees from Somalia's 20-year-old civil war but

The two Spanish women were working for Doctors Without Borders when gunmen seized them on Thursday after shooting and injuring their driver. Kenyan police said they were pursing the kidnappers toward the Somali border on Thursday.

Jehu-Hoyah said the ban on nonessential movement for the UN staff and their partners from aid groups would remain in place until further notice but that the UN was working closely with the Kenyan government to improve security. She said more police have been deployed and extra checkpoints set up.

Security has long been a concern at Dadaab, where representatives from various factions seek to recruit disaffected young male refugees as fighters. Aid workers live in guarded compounds surrounded by high barbed-wire walls, and the UN requires its staff to travel in the camps with armed escorts.

Foreign aid workers

Thursday's kidnapping has the potential to severely affect services for a long time to come.

The suspension does not just affect the UN.

Most of CARE's 250 staffers in Dadaab are confined to the compound, said Juliett Otieno, a spokesperson  for the relief agency.

"The only ones going out are those who perform lifesaving services," she said. "We don't know how long it will last."

The kidnapping is believed to be the first such seizure of foreign aid workers from the camp, although Somalis have kidnapped two other Europeans from Kenya in the past six weeks. The border between Kenya and Somalia is long and porous and both refugees and militants can cross with ease.

On October 01, Somali gunmen took a wheelchair-bound French woman from her home near the resort town of Lamu. Somalis also abducted a British woman from a Kenyan coastal resort in September. Her husband was killed in the attack.

Most of lawless Somalia has been carved up between warlords, pirates and Islamist insurgents battling a weak UN-backed government. Western hostages can fetch high ransoms and can spend more than a year in captivity.

Read more on:    un  |  shabaab  |  kenya  |  somalia  |  abductions  |  east africa  |  africa drought  |  east africa hunger

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
/News
 

US biker deaths down: What's the secret?

Motorcycle deaths are on track to decline for a second year in the US thanks to a so far - on bikes - little-used road safety accessory.

 

Stay safe

US biker deaths down: What's the secret?
Pro's and con's of accredited driver-training
Juvenile pillion riders? Play safe...
Need a family ride? SA's top Mommy Cars
Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You are eager to please and expand your horizons today. You may take on more than you anticipated and feel the effects later. Keep...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.