Australians supporting the UN Refugee Agency
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KAKUMA, Kenya, March 27 (UNHCR) -
When Kakuma camp was first set in 1992, it hosted thousands of
refugees fleeing the civil war in Sudan. Twenty years later, the
refugee camp in north-western Kenya is now filling up again with a
new influx of people fleeing conflict in parts of South Sudan and
More than 4,500 people have arrived in Kakuma camp so far this
year, over 76 per cent of them from South Sudan and Sudan. Many
said they fled the recent communal violence in South Sudan's
Jonglei state, citing indiscriminate killings, cattle theft and the
burning of houses as reasons for fleeing. Families were reportedly
separated in the chaos. Some reported that their villages in
Jonglei were completely abandoned. Others said they left South
Sudan as they were afraid the violence might spread.
"I fled from Duk in Jonglei when I heard gunshots in the dead of
the night," said a woman who fled with nine children. "Revenge
attacks in our village targeted women and children. We walked for
several days to Juba and a Good Samaritan assisted us with
transportation to Kenya."
Among the recent arrivals in Kakuma are also people from Sudan's
South Kordofan state, where fighting has been raging for months
between the Sudanese Armed Forces and Sudan People's Liberation
Movement-North. Some fled first to South Sudan, but moved further
south towards Kenya when border areas came under attack.
"Most of the asylum-seekers arrived in Kenya on foot or in
vehicles," said Guy Avognon, who heads UNHCR in Kakuma. "Some said
that they walked for two to three months to get here, and left
their elderly behind as they could not complete the arduous
The new arrivals are being hosted at Kakuma camp's reception
centre, which has a capacity for 700 people but has at times housed
more than 1,600 new arrivals during the past weeks. UNHCR has been
able to decongest the centre by fast tracking registration and
moving new arrivals to the camp, where they are provided with food
rations and relief supplies.
"If the current pace of arrivals continues, Kakuma camp will
likely reach full capacity by June," said Avognon. "We need to take
urgent action to address this influx, including expanding camp
settlement areas and increasing capacities and resources to assist
UNHCR will eventually assess their eligibility for refugee
As of mid-March, there were a total of 91,140 refugees and
asylum-seekers in the 20-year-old camp, which can hold up to
100,000 people. Somali refugees account for just over half and
Sudanese and South Sudanese are one-third of the total camp
population. The remaining refugees come from 10 countries including
Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia.