Collapsed Shelter Kills Infant, Injures Another
A decrepit refugee shelter in Kakuma 1 collapsed suddenly after the weakened brick layers fell apart.
The house, which is located in Kakuma 1, Zone 3, Block 9, suddenly collapsed causing serious injuries to two young babies who were in the house. The incident happened on the 7th of December, 2011 at 14:30Hrs. The UNHCR and National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) were implementing a refugee shelter programme at Kakuma.
The shelters of many refugees are in bad conditions and will require urgent intervention as shelters were not made out of durable materials, requiring annual review and assessment for better housing. Refugees have been asking several questions in regard to shelter problems in the camp. “Why shouldn’t refugees be built durable shelters given that the camps have existed for decades?” asked a shelter committee member in Kakuma 1. The current shelters use temporary bricks that can easily be washed away in a single heavy downpour and flooding.
The house that measured 3x4M collapsed from behind inwards while a nine-month old baby was enjoying her sleep away from the burning sun of Turkana. The mother was outside the house washing clothes and utensils when the house slowly came down to the ground. She stated in the interview with KANERE, that she had just breastfed her younger daughter when she started falling asleep moments before the brick walls fell apart and collapsed. Another baby girl aged four and a half years was also in the house when the thatch roofed house of muddy mould bricks wall fell down. Both babies suffered several injuries while the nine-month old suffered more severe injuries and some suffocation from the bricks.
The two babies were rushed to the refugee hospital with their mother, and nine-month old was urgently referred to Kakuma Mission Hospital where treatment was provided. As the injuries sustained by the baby girl were too pervasive, she died at 22:00Hrs of the same day under treatment at Kakuma Mission hospital. The body of the child was released to the family for burial on the 8th December 2011 at the Kakuma 2 grave yard.
The family was profoundly distraught by the incident. “I had no control, I breastfed my baby before the house collapsed. The quick sleep overtook the baby and her elder sister who was also in the house due to the hot sun outside. I was frightened by the sudden collapse,” said the mother of late Niyomuremyi Blandine
In response to the incident, a few days later the shelter and filed units visited the scene. The family of the victim was provided with bricks for wall construction and roofing materials were given after a week; however the head of the family still complains that the doors of the house have still not been fixed when interviewed by KANERE.