Food aid driver kidnapped in Kenya

2011-09-21 16:33

Nairobi - A Kenyan driver working for an international aid organisation has been kidnapped by unknown gunmen in one of the camps that make up the world's biggest refugee complex, his employer said on Wednesday.

The Kenyan, who has not been identified, works for Care International and was abducted at gunpoint close to midday on Monday from Hagadera camp in the Dabaab complex at the wheel of his vehicle.

"There were reports that people were trying to charge for water. A team had gone to solve the issue. You can't charge for water in the camps," Care Kenya acting country director Gary McGurk told AFP.

Three aid workers left the vehicle to settle the problem, leaving the driver alone in the car.

Then "three men came to him, with one pointing a pistol at him", and went away with him in the car, McGurk said.

"We have suspended our programmes [in Dadaab] except for the life-saving programmes" since the kidnapping, McGurk said, adding that staff still in the field were working under police protection.

The programmes suspended are education and counselling programmes on gender-based violence. Care is still running its water and food distribution programmes.

The severely-overcrowded camps in Dadaab are home to more than 450 000 refugees, most of whom have come from Somalia, fleeing either drought or war or a combination of the two.

The camps are so sprawling that policing them is extremely difficult.

The Kenyan authorities have on several occasions expressed fears that Islamist extremists would infiltrate the camps from Somalia, as the border lies barely 100km away.