Refugee boys from South Sudan work in a flour mill in Kalobeyei settlement, near Kakuma Refugee Camp in Turkana county, northern Kenya, 24 June 2019 | Photo: EPA/DAI KUROKAWA
Refugee boys from South Sudan work in a flour mill in Kalobeyei settlement, near Kakuma Refugee Camp in Turkana county, northern Kenya, 24 June 2019 | Photo: EPA/DAI KUROKAWA

The UN Refugee Agency, humanitarian agencies and the Kenyan government are strengthening their COVID-19 response after two cases were reported in the Daddab refugee camps in Kenya, UNHCR said in a statement published on May 20.

 The UN Refugee Agency, humanitarian agencies and the government of Kenya are strengthening their COVID-19 response, after the cabinet confirmed that two individuals tested positive in the Dadaab refugee camps, UNHCR said on May 20.


In line with the government's directives, the two individuals were placed in quarantine and then moved to isolation centers after their tests came out positive. The health ministry's Disease Surveillance and Response team has initiated contact tracing. 

Concern for crowded conditions 

The organization stressed in the statement that crowded conditions in the Dadaab refugee camps, where health services are already under pressure, "raise serious concerns about the vulnerability of over 217,000 refugees and 320,000 host communities living in the camp and its surrounding areas."

UNHCR, partners and other UN sister agencies have been supporting the government-led countrywide response plan to mitigate risks and prevent further spread of the virus in the refugee camps, it said. 

In Dadaab, health facilities have been added with the construction of isolation and quarantine centers with an additional 955 beds, the UN agency explained. 

An additional 125 hand-washing stations have been installed at food distribution sites, schools and markets. 

Health centers have been provided with 68 personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline staff, 450 pairs of gloves, 45,000 surgical masks and four oxygen concentrators. 

Refugee-led working groups have produced more than 150,000 cloth masks which will be ready for distribution in the coming days. All health workers have been trained on COVID-19 prevention and response. 

Initiatives for awareness and support 

"Hygiene awareness campaigns on COVID-19 prevention have reached more than 200,000 refugees, including through local radio, posters, leaflets, WhatsApp messages, social media and dedicated websites in Somali, Oromo, Dinka, Swahili, Nuer, French and English," the agency said.

UNHCR, the World Food Programme (WFP) and partners have provided double rations of food and hygiene products such as soap and jerrycans, to minimize the need for large gatherings and queues, according to the statement.

''Refugee community leaders and outreach workers have received training and are regularly sharing key messages with the refugee population in the camp. UNHCR and partners have also enhanced psycho-social support structures and strengthened existing dedicated helplines to ensure that refugees and asylum-seekers have access to information and guidance on available assistance."

UNHCR urged the international community to intensify its contribution to the global response against COVID-19 to ensure that vulnerable refugees, asylum-seekers and host communities in Kenya have access to adequate health services and care.
 

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