UN expands refugee camp in Kenya as South Sudan conflict rages

  • by VNBUSINESS
  • June 22, 2015

Kakuma camp in northern Kenya is expanding by nearly a half, the UN refugee agency said on June 20, to house refugees fleeing nearby South Sudan as hopes fade for peace in the world`s newest nation.

The arrival of some 44,000 South Sudanese refugees since late 2013, when fighting broke out between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebels allied with former Vice President Riek Machar, has stretched the camp to its limits.

"Before the resumption of the current crisis, what we hoped was that the camp would shut. But what we`ve seen, since December 2013, is actually the contrary," said Raouf Mazou, the UN refugee agency`s Kenya representative.

 

Kakuma is home to some 185,000 people, mostly from South Sudan, and with the planned expansion it will soon accommodate up to 80,000 more. The extra space will help ease congestion as well as make room for new arrivals.

 

The sprawling Kakuma camp was set up in Kenya`s arid Turkana County in 1992 to accommodate thousands of "Lost Boys" who fled the southern part of what was then Sudan and walked hundreds of miles to Kenya.

A 2005 peace deal paved the way for South Sudan`s 2011 independence and the United Nations launched a repatriation program. By 2008, officials contemplated the camp`s closure.

But the crisis involving long-time rivals Kiir and Machar has led to fierce fighting along ethnic lines: Kiir is an ethnic Dinka and Machar is Nuer.

Thousands have been killed and more than 1.5 million people have been displaced, while another 500,000 have fled to neighboring countries, especially Ethiopia and Uganda, the United Nations has said.

Source: VOV

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