Starving refugees fleeing East Africa's drought are being barred from a refugee centre which Kenya's government refuses to open due to security fears.
New water tanks, lavatory blocks and health care facilities stand idle at the camp while tens of thousands of desperate people are forced to shelter nearby in what Oxfam today called "shocking conditions".
The extra space was built to take the overspill from Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp, which was overwhelmed even before the effects of the current hit crisis levels.
Dadaab's three existing centres were designed to house 90,000 people mostly fleeing war and drought in neighbouring Somalia.
Today, they are swamped with more than 380,000, and 1,400 more people are arriving each day.
Kenya's government approved the construction of the new Ifo II camp two years ago but has since blocked access for fear that refugees will settle there permanently.
Joost van de Lest, the head of Oxfam in Kenya, said that while Kenya should be commended for hosting Somalia's refugees for more than a decade, it was imperative that new arrivals now be allowed access to the ready-made camp.
"It is tragic that vulnerable families are trapped in limbo, forced to endure appalling conditions while there are fully functioning services right next door," he said.
"Women and children have walked for weeks through the desert, braving hunger and attacks by armed robbers and wild animals, to get to the camps in Kenya.
"They arrive extremely weak and malnourished, and the least that we can do is ensure that there is water, food and care for them when they get here."
The UN's refugee agency UNHCR has for two years been calling on the Kenyan government to open the new facilities.
Antonio Guterres, head of UNHCR, said today that the drought now affecting more than 11 million people in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia was "the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today".
Three times more children are dying at Dadaab's other camps than a year ago, Mr Guterres said after a visit there at the weekend.
Ethiopia today revised estimates of the number of its citizens needing urgent food, water and medicines to 4.5 million, 40 per cent more than earlier calculated.
Separately, the anti-poverty campaign group ONE, founded by Bono, the Irish rock star, said that £13.7 billion of pledges made by G8 leaders in 2009 to help prepare people for future droughts were less than a fifth funded.
"We should not need a food crisis to wake us up to the need to not just give food aid now, but also deliver on the promised partnership with African leaders, citizens and the private sector to boost [agricultural] yields across the region," said Jamie Drummond, the group's executive director.
Britain has handed over just 30 per cent of the £1.1 billion it promised for schemes that would have helped protect people from the current food crisis, he added.SOURCE: The Telegraph