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Kakuma refugee evaded roadblocks, caught Covid-19

Angry residents say laxity by security and health workers responsible for Turkana's first Covid case.

May 28th 2020 · 1 min read
Kakuma refugee evaded roadblocks, caught Covid-19

Turkana residents have bashed security agencies and health workers for not enforcing travel restrictions, allowing a Kakuma refugee to travel 1,400km to Eastleigh, Nairobi, where he caught Covid-19.

It's Turkana's first case, reported on May 24.  His contacts are being traced.

The 32-year-old Somali national registered at the Kakuma refugee camp travelled to bring his 31-year-old sister and one and a half-year-old child back from Eastleigh.

Eastleigh is considered a Covid-19 hotspot and travel in and out of Nairobi is severely restricted.

How did he evade all those roadblocks and checks along the way?

Angry residents blamed laxity of security agencies and health workers.

Lodwar resident Egule John said there is no way a refugee should have been able to sneak out of Kakuma camp, which is in lockdown, and travel to Lodwar, Kitale, Eldoret, then Eastleigh. He wasn't intercepted.

“I’m shocked coronavirus has reached Turkana. We are not safe. How did this Somali national manage to travel all that way?" he asked.

If there had been strict enforcement and screening at roadblocks, he couldn't have travelled and brought Covid-19 back, he said.

Kakuma town resident Joseph Ekir said refugees sneak out of the camp and travel to Nairobi for their usual activities.

However,  Turkana police commander Samuel Ndanyi commended security teams for intercepting the man and his sister before they could reenter the refugee camp.

“There has been an anti-coronavirus lockdown at Kakuma camp and refugees are not allowed to leave or enter, but human beings are always crafty," Ndanyi said.

He said security surveillance has been enhanced with more police checkpoints and patrols.

The camps are porous and we have identified entries and exits used by refugees to get out of the camp. We will ensure no one leaves or enters," he said.

last updated: 2020-05-28@18:05