Two Refugee Children Die in a Seasonal River in Kakuma Camp
“I was shocked to hear my children drowned a short time after having lunch together. I could not believe it when I found them already dead!
A refugee family from the Great Lakes lost their 12- and 15-year old boys in a pool of water a few days after torrential rain caused damage to the refugee population. According to the family, the two boys had their lunch on the 27th of December, 2011 at about 15:45Hrs and then went to play together with neighbours from the same block. “I was shocked to hear my children were drowned,” said the mother of the children. “We had lunch together and I could not believe my ears but only to find them already dead,” she added.
The incident happened at 16:00Hrs at the Nabek seasonal river where activities like brick making and watering vegetables take place before it dries up. The two boys were from the Burundian community of Kakuma 1, Zone 4, Block 1. Eye witnesses say that perhaps they went to the deepest area of the stagnant pool and then were submerged under water because none of them knew how to swim. The elder went to the deepest point of the pool, so his younger brother went to rescue him but tragically drowned in the process. “I saw many children swimming and a moment later one was drowning. I started shouting, and there was no body around except the helpless young boys who surrounded me…,” said Alex, a class 4 pupil in the camp primary school. Community members responded to the scene but they found that the two brothers were already dead in the water. The incident was reported both to the UNHCR and LWF Camp security and to the Kenya police. The UNHCR field and security staff visited the scene and the affected family. The corpses were removed and taken to the refugee camp hospital mortuary. The bodies were released to the family for burial on the 28th of December, 2011.
Several reports have indicated that rains in the mountainous area that surrounds the camp and some from Ugandan side always cause seasonal flooding in the camp, and from time to time individuals have lost their lives. Two years ago a Kakuma Mission Hospital vehicle was waterlogged at Kalobei village killing a nun and two medical personnel one of whom served at the IRC Camp Hospital. In November 2011, Hassan Sade , a 19 -year old Somali male refugee, went missing after three days of flooding in Kakuma 1, Zone 2, Block 10. Relatives reported that Hassan developed mental illness in Kakuma. Two days later his swollen body was found submerged in the sandy flow of the river about 20km away from the Kakuma Camp Lokichogio road.
Security measures have been taken, and all humanitarian agencies have been advised not to travel or drive through the flooded river inside or outside the camp. KANERE urges refugees in the Camp not to swim or leave their children unattended in the hazardous areas.