NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug. 12 (UPI) — Despite overcrowding at the world’s biggest refugee camp, Kenyan officials won’t open another camp, saying Somali refugees should be cared for in Somalia.
Aid workers said they’re desperate to move Somali refugees from the Dadaab camp as its population swells past 400,000 into another camp, which was built last year but remains closed, The Guardian reported.
The Kenyan government refused to allow the camp to be opened, arguing that the new settlement would suggest permanence of the refugees and that they should be cared for in Somalia instead.
As a compromise, thousands of Somali families living in makeshift shelters on the outskirts of the three existing camps are being transferred to tents on a piece of land where latrines are still being dug and water must be trucked in, the British newspaper said.
On Monday, 400,579 refugees were officially recorded in Dadaab and another 38,000 were waiting to be registered, making it the third-biggest “city” in Kenya. Officials said if refugees continue to flow into the camp at current levels its official population would exceed a half-million people by late October, The Guardian said.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki said the status quo was unacceptable.
“Somali refugees need to be settled inside their country and be given food and other forms of support they may require while there,” he said.