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Kenya, UN gear up for refugee influx from South Sudan

13 January 2014, 08:41

Turkana - Kenya and the UN refuge agency have set up a refugee reception center along the Kenya - South Sudan border to register the refugees fleeing ongoing fighting between the government and rebels in the world's newest state.

Turkana West Deputy County Commissioner Mohamed Haji Dara said the UNHCR and Kenya's Department of Refugee Affairs (DRA) have set up a refugee center at Nadapal border point to vet the Sudanese new arrivals.

"We are really faced by humanitarian crisis in the region. The camp is already congested. But we have set up a portion of the land to accommodate the Sudanese new arrivals," Dara said in Turkana on Sunday.

According to the UN, at least 231,000 people have fled their homes since Dec. 15 with nearly 43,000 South Sudanese seeking refuge in neighboring countries, mainly Uganda.

The UN has appealed for 166 million U.S. dollars in aid to the displaced civilians through March. So far, an estimated 167,000 people of the 628,000 in need of aid have been reached.

The UN expects to have a "significant number of foreign police units" operating on the ground within the next few days, with the full 5,500-strong surge in UN peacekeepers and equipment deployed on the ground within eight weeks.

Dara noted that Kakuma refugee camp in northwest Kenya, which is now accommodating an estimated 119,000 refugees from different nationalities, is already overstretched.

They have been overwhelmed by hundreds of Sudanese families, especially women and children who are seeking asylum in the country following an eruption of ethnic violence in South Sudan.

He said vetting process of the refugees would continue at the border point to ensure only genuine refugees are registered in the camp.

"We have put up security measures to ensure all refugees seeking asylum in the country are vetted before they are enrolled to the camp."

"We don't want a situation where some hooligans take the advantage of the Sudan crisis to smuggled firearms to the Country, " Dara said.

He said they are experiencing high refugees' influx at the Kenya-Southern Sudan border, adding the they are receiving as many as 500-800 Sudanese nationals daily at Nadapal border point.

The administrator hinted that UN top officials on Friday toured Nadapal border point to assess the humanitarian crisis.

He said the officials also witnessed the setting up of a reception unit at Nadapal border point where the refugees are registered before they are taken to Kakuma refugee camp.

The administrator said more than 7,000 refugees, mostly women and children, have been registered at the border point.

According to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the number of people killed in the current round of fighting in the world's youngest country "must be much higher" than the 1,000 figure given earlier in the conflict.

- Xinhua


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