Dutch minister visits Kenya refugee camp

20th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Dutch Deputy Development Cooperation Minister is in Kenya to see for himself the effects of the famine currently gripping the Horn of Africa. The United Nations World Food Programme has proclaimed the famine a disaster of the highest priority.

The Dutch deputy minister is just one of a stream of officials and journalists to visit the Kenyan refugee camp Dadaab. The refugee camp was first set up in 1991, at the outbreak of civil war in Somalia.

Mr Knapen, who was accompanied by a group of Dutch activists and aid workers, said “One in eight children here is seriously malnourished. The Dutch public needs to understand the gravity of the situation. The deputy minister warned that the United Nations and other aid organisations should be given more means, because many more Somalian refugees are headed this way.”

The region suffers the worst drought in 50 years, a situation exacerbated by the fact that most victims in Somalia cannot be reached. Until recently, the Al Shabab Islamist militia rejected all foreign aid.

Mr Knapen said it was unthinkable the Netherlands would donate funds for aid to areas under the control of Al Shabab. “We cannot subsidise terrorists.” However, the UN delivered a first shipment of aid goods to Baidoa - a city under the control of al Shabab - at the weekend. “Aid organisations must be able to carry out inspections on the spot to ensure their aid reaches the poor instead of lining the pockets of terrorists.'


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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