Page last updated at 13:51 GMT, Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Flooding deluges Somali refugees

Somali refugees near Dadaab, 3/11
Weeks of rain have made life perilous for the refugees

A camp housing thousands of mainly Somali refugees in north-eastern Kenya has been completely flooded following almost three weeks of constant rain.

A BBC reporter who has just visited the Ifo camp in the Dadaab area says the main road into the area has been cut off by flooding.

He says some of the refugees have reported the first cases of dysentery.

Amid criticism of aid agencies' response, the UN said it had stockpiled food to last three months.

"In anticipation of the rainy season we already put a contingency plan in place," Emmanuel Nyabera from the UN's refugee agency in Nairobi told the BBC.

There is a fear that the flooding could help spread water-borne diseases and malaria.

Camp criticism

The BBC's Bashkas Jugsodaay, at the Ifo camp, says water levels reach half-way up the houses - and it is still raining.

He says it took seven hours to make a journey that usually takes two hours, and some people have been stranded on the roads for days.

The three camps in Dadaab were meant to hold 90,000 refugees, but almost 300,000 people now live there.

A further 8,000 refugees - most of whom are fleeing the conflict in Somalia - arrive each month.

Aid agencies such as Oxfam have bitterly criticised the conditions in the camps and called for Kenya to allow expansion.

Somalia is nominally ruled by a UN-backed government, but Islamist insurgents control large areas and instability is rife.

The failed Horn of Africa state has not had a functioning central government since 1991.

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