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(Kenya) Matiang’i Orders Lockdown at Kakuma & Dadaab Refugee Camps

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Cabinet Secretary (CS) for the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Security Fred Matiang’i on Tuesday, April 28, effected the Public Order Act on cessation of movement in and out of Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps.

The new directive is set to take effect on Wednesday, April 29, as directed by the CS, in a move to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

According to data from The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Dadaab refugee complex has a population of 217,511 registered refugees and asylum seekers as at the end of March 2020.

On the other hand, Kakuma Refugee Camp harbours 34,620 refugees as of December 31, 2019.

Interior CS Fred Matiang'i addressing the press after a meeting with Governors on Thursday, February 20, 2020.

Interior CS Fred Matiang’i addressing the press after a meeting with Governors on Thursday, February 20, 2020.

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The UNHCR had already announced the implementation of precautionary measures to prevent any further spread of the virus and in order to protect refugees, asylum-seekers, and other persons of concern.

These measures were detailed as:

  • No reception, interviews or counselling will take place at UNHCR offices.
  • All movements of persons of concern wishing to return to their countries have been suspended.
  • All movements of refugees departing to resettlement countries have been suspended.
  • Movements between Kakuma, Dadaab and Nairobi: Refugee Affairs Secretariat has suspended the issuance of movement passes. Hence, no movements take place between Kakuma, Dadaab and Nairobi until further notice.

Refugee International, a refugee advocacy group, upon assessing the camp preparedness and capacity to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, warned that the social and health infrastructure in place could not deal with an outbreak.

The report titled Covid-19 and the Displaced: Addressing the Threat of the Novel Coronavirus in Humanitarian Emergencies’, the agency raised an alarm over the ease with which the virus spread makes the refugees’ living conditions a potential disaster.

“The government ought to ensure that refugees and the displaced are included in prevention and mitigation efforts, otherwise those in the camps could be left vulnerable to the disease, which could consequently hinder efforts to prevent the spread of the virus,” reads an excerpt of the report.

The UNHCR also set up a coronavirus taskforce working in coordination with national and county governments, as well as NGOs.

“During the past three weeks, we’ve focused heavily on prevention,” Kahin Ismail, senior operations manager for UNHCR in Kakuma stated during an interview.

“Schools are closed, information campaigns are underway, and we are focusing on our response and health preparedness,” he added.

Ministry of Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Rashid Abdi Aman on Tuesday, April 28 announced that 11 new Covid-19 cases had been confirmed in the last 24 hours.

Speaking from Afya House, the CAS stated that the total number of those who had tested positive for Covid-19 currently stood at 374.

Aerial view of Ifo 2 Camp, Dadaab

Aerial view of Ifo 2 Camp, Dadaab.

UNCR

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About Mercy Wanjiku

Mercy Wanjiku

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