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.
“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.
Lodwar district accident claimed 36 lives while at least 84 others incurred severe injuries; refugees still await compensation from the Eldoret Bus Company.
On Saturday 24 Sep 2011, along Kakuma –an Eldoret company bus dashed off Lodwar road at Nasiger killing 36 passengers. At least 84 other people wer injured terribly. The accident happened at 5:30PM as the bus approached Lodwar. The bus, which was traveling from Kakuma to Lodwar – Kitale – Nairobi routes, hit a pot hole before it overturned and rolled. The front tires ran out while the vehicle was in motion causing casualties. “They were running in bad speed, they rolled several times before landing on the roof,” said a survivor.
UNHCR made arrangements to collect and transport the bodies to Kakuma 2 grave yard, where they were buried at 16:30PM the following day. At the Lodwar District hospital the police issued an abstract for all the dead bodies to families and UNHCR staff.
Survivors report that the bus was speeding even though the roads are in poor condition. “The bus was speeding and overloaded at the time of the accident, that was what I can recall,” said Tura an Ethiopian refugee.
According to the Red Cross rescue team, which was first to arrive at the scene, the accident was the worst of the season. The official stated that the front tires of the vehicle separated and the body was extensively damaged. “The bus was overloaded and some passangers were standing when the accident happened,” added a Sudanese woman
According to a reliable source, two doctors and one nurse from International Rescue Committee (IRC) – Kakuma were sent to Lodwar District hospital to aid in emergency response following the accident. Seven refugees were referred to Nairobi for further treatment.
Nasiger has already been marked as a dangerous spot. A number of vehicles have been involved in accidents on that route due both to negligence and to traffic. On the 29th of January at about 14:45Pm, the rear right tire of a Kenyan Police security vehicle burst upon reaching Nasiger center along Lodwar – Kakuma highway. The driver lost control after the tire burst, and the vehicle hit a tree resulting in serious damage. The vehicle was returning from Kitale where it had escorted a UNHCR official.
According to a report from local authorities, the vehicle had several passengers mainly police officers including Kakuma based humanitarian staff who had been offered a lift from Kitale. Five police officers sustained body and limb injuries and three passengers were transported to the Lodwar District Hospital for first aid and treatment. Seriously injured victims were evacuated to Nairobi by a police aircraft on Monday, 30January 2012. Three other staff members from Kakuma humanitarian organizations were also involved.
Seven refugee families with family members among the 36 casualtiess are still waiting to be compensated with assistance from the UNHCR Sub – Office Kakuma and the Kakuma court. The cases will be heard in a Kenyan court which will determine what amount of compensation will be made to the families of deceased person and to injured persons as defined under Kenyan Law.
On 16 Dec 2011 all refugee families of victims were informed in a meeting by the UNHCR official that the cases could be brought before the court in January 2012. This has not happened yet and the refugees are still waiting.