Starvation and Suicide: Refugees in Kenya Camps

By USCRI May 3, 2024

The extreme cuts to food rations in Kakuma Refugee Camp and Kalobeyei Settlement in Kenya have led to deadly protests, suicides, and an inhumane situation for refugees seeking safety and protection. The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) is deeply disturbed by reports it received on the current situation in the camp, which has warehoused refugees for over three decades. USCRI received credible information from refugees in the camp detailing a dreadful reality following World Food Programme (WFP) cuts to food rations.

“There is a hidden humanitarian crisis happening in Kakuma and Kalobeyei, and as the world looks away, human beings are being starved to death and robbed of their dignity,” said USCRI President and CEO Eskinder Negash. “Cuts to food rations and other resources have left refugees in complete desperation. The international community must act now.”

As conflict and crises in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and around the region escalate, Kakuma and Kalobeyei continue to receive large influxes of people who fled for their lives. As thousands of new arrivals seek refuge in the camp, the population in Kakuma and Kalobeyei has climbed to hundreds of thousands of people, many of them children. Emerging details describe people arriving at the camp nearly or completely naked, hungry, and in dire need of support.

Instead of safety and protection, refugees are finding starvation. Food rations have now been cut by 60 percent, leaving refugees with 1,000 Kenyan Shillings per month – the equivalent of about seven dollars. Cash assistance in Kakuma was suspended altogether. Protests erupted in Kakuma and Kalobeyei following news of the cuts. It was reported a child was shot and killed in Kakuma, and another left critically injured during the unrest. Suicide attempts in the community have increased, and it was reported to USCRI that three people died by suicide in Kakuma in April alone – most recently, a single mother of seven children.

“I have received pleas for survival from individuals in the camp as this bleak situation becomes a rock bottom of our humanity,” said Negash. “Selective humanity will always lead to unimaginable catastrophe. An increase in global humanitarian need is not an excuse to abandon the most vulnerable. Governments and other donors must act urgently to restore funding and ensure that people are able to meet basic needs.”

USCRI implores WFP to urgently restore food rations in Kakuma and Kalobeyei. Donor governments and the international community must take immediate action steps to secure funding and restore the WFP budget in Kenya’s refugee camps.

USCRI, founded in 1911, is a non-governmental, not-for-profit international organization committed to working on behalf of refugees and immigrants and their transition to a dignified life.

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