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US gives $45 million to help Kenya with refugee crisis

Published:Tuesday | May 5, 2015 | 12:00 AM
US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the media at a press conference held at a hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, yesterday.


The United States said yesterday it will give US$45 million to help Kenya deal with an increasingly complex refugee crisis in a region long defined by Somalia's endemic violence, but where war in nearby Yemen is now creating conditions so dire that some people are even fleeing to Somalia.

In Nairobi, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the funding for the United Nations refugee agency's operations in the East African country as it struggles to provide for some 600,000 refugees. More than half are Somalis living in the sprawling Dadaab complex, the world's largest for refugees and the subject of what have been intense diplomatic talks between Kenyan officials threatening to close the camp and Americans insisting such action would violate international law.

Kerry said he received assurances yesterday from Kenya's once-shunned president, Uhuru Kenyatta, that the camp would stay open while an international plan is devised to make Somalia safe enough for its citizens to return. He said he came away from the discussions with a deeper appreciation for the refugee burden Kenya carries.

The talks on refugees were part of a whirlwind day for the secretary of state that included commemorating the victims of Kenya's past and more recent terror attacks and holding extensive discussions with Kenyatta and other officials on combatting al-Shabaab extremists operating out of Somalia. His trip sets the stage for President Barack Obama's visit this summer.