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High Commissioner for Refugees concludes mission to crisis-hit Horn of Africa

Press Release  12 July 2011

New arrivals from Somalia.
New arrivals from Somalia.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, yesterday concluded a five-day mission to Ethiopia and Kenya where recent weeks have seen dramatic increases in the numbers of refugees crossing from Somalia fleeing conflict and drought. Since the start of July around 11,000 people have arrived in Ethiopia and more than 8,600 in Kenya. Daily arrival numbers are currently averaging 1,700 and 1,300 people in Ethiopia and Kenya respectively.

Guterres visited refugee camps at Dollo Ado in southeast Ethiopia, and at Dadaab in Kenya, where he spoke to newly arrived refugees, including mothers who had lost children on the journey from Somalia, and others exhausted and in need of medical help. The condition of recent arrivals, children in particular, has become a matter of increasing concern: In Dollo Ado one in every two arriving children below five years in age is malnourished. In Dadaab, malnourishment is found in one-in-four children arriving in the primary reception camp at Ifo. In both Ethiopia and Kenya, UNHCR and partners are focusing on screening children and vulnerable individuals without delay to ensure the immediate provision of life-saving food and services.

In his public statements over the past five days, Guterres has appealed for a rapid and substantial international response to this crisis, as well as support for populations of all countries affected by the drought. Last Friday UNHCR formally requested $136.3 million in help from donors to meet urgent needs. Yesterday, in Nairobi, the High Commissioner met Kenyas Internal Security and Acting Foreign Affairs Minister George Saitoti. The two agreed on the need for the international community to organize substantial humanitarian operations inside Somalia. They reviewed the implementation of a joint UNHCR-Kenya Security Partnership Programme at Dadaab under which UNHCR supports policing efforts. And they also agreed that UNHCRs Kenya Country Representative and Kenyas Director of Security at the Foreign Affairs Ministry would conduct a common assessment of reorganization and expansion areas at Dadaab to allow for a more effective response to the security, protection, and assistance needs of new arrivals.

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