Kakuma News Reflector – A Refugee Free Press

Powerful Winds Demolish House, Kills a Child

Posted in Human Rights, News Updates by KANERE on July 31, 2019

By Baluu Wol Makuach, KANERE Reporter, March 2019

During heavy winds, a house in Kakuma 1, Zone 4, Block 6 collapsed, killing a two-year old boy identified as Daniel Deng Majok and causing serious injuries to another young baby who were playing outside the house. The incident happened on March 20, 2019 at 10:30 AM. The boy’s father is 45-year-old Samuel Majok Aduai, a South Sudanese national from Jonglei State who left his country due to civil strife. Holding back tears, he explained.

“What happened was a travesty; my son was playing outside the house with another boy. But then the roof collapsed, pushing the wall on either side and causing it to fall on them. We extracted the kids and rushed them to the hospital; my son gave up and was no more.”

The two babies were rushed to the refugee hospital with their father. However, the two-year-old son died on arrival at the clinic. The other was urgently referred to the hospital in Kakuma 4 where treatment was provided.

Family portrait of deceased child where house wall fell on a child during wind storm in Kakuma/By KANERE

The UNHCR and National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) were previously responsible for implementing the shelter programmes in Kakuma. Complaints about shelter quality have been raised through visits to the offices and by sending Block leaders as representatives. They also filed with KASI (Kiosk Access for Service and Information), an electronic system for raising concerns with UNHCR.

However, Samuel claims that they receiving minimal responses. “I lodged an appointment through the computer, and I have received three messages. I eventually met the protection teams regarding my shelter, but nothing happened since then. I don’t know – now that my son is dead maybe they will bring the material.”

The other affected family was also shocked by the incident. John Thoun Jur, a father of the surviving child, said: “My son was in critical condition. He was unconscious for three days before awakening. He is currently not feeling safe; he is still feeling pain at the back. The hospital is unable to send him for an X-ray checkup yet.”

In response to the incident, and until the time of publications of this article, no one from the shelter service at UNHCR has visited the scene. The family of the victim has not been provided materials for reconstruction.

“This is not the first time the wind blow off roof tops in the camp,” explains Jacob Biar Deng, a Zonal Leader. “There are many others, but this one stands out.

The incident was a surprise to everyone here. Living in Kakuma is hard; even if something wears out and needs to be repaired, money is first in your mind. We request the refugee agencies to respond to the cases of shelter as soon as refugees go looking for help. I am sure cases like this will recur, as strong wind is not unusual in the camp.”

Many shelters are in bad condition and indeed of urgent intervention. Some were built two decades ago and have received little renovation.

KANERE attempted to contact the NCCK for clarifications, but those receiving the calls said that the person in charge is on leave. No one in position to give views for media was available.

Refugees also have been asking questions about future shelter upgrades in the camp. Many shelters are not made out of durable materials. Those made from mud bricks that can be washed away in a single heavy downpour or flooding. Some are calling for a review to assess the need for shelter upgrades.

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