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Kenya Bans Movement In and Out of Two Huge Refugee Camps

Interior Minister Fred Matiangi said the restrictions apply to the Dadaab camp in eastern Kenya, home to 217 000 people, and the Kakuma camp in north-western Kenya, home to 190 000 people. Kenya, which has recorded 384 coronavirus cases to date, has yet to report any infections in the two camps, which house refugees from Somalia, South Sudan and Ethiopia – some of whom have lived there for almost 20 years. Health experts and humanitarian groups have long warned an outbreak of Covid-19 – the disease caused by the new coronavirus – in densely populated refugee camps would be catastrophic. In Dadaab, “a possible outbreak of the coronavirus would be a disaster with a quarantine capacity for only 2 000 people in place and only one dedicated Covid-19 health facility including 110 beds for more than 270 000 people,” Philippa Crosland-Taylor, of Geneva-based organisation CARE, said on Twitter. Kenya has not imposed a full lockdown, but has imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew and similarly blocked movement in and out of Nairobi, three coastal towns and the north-eastern county of Mandera. UN refugee agency spokesperson Eujin Byun told AFP news agency the new restrictions would not mean a “significant change” for the refugees. She said the issuance of movement passes allowing them to travel out of the area has been halted since the end of March.