News / Africa

After Long Trek, Somali Refugees Face More Hardship in Camps

A Somali woman stands in front of Somalis queuing outside the reception center in Ifo refugee camp, one of three camps in Kenya's Dadaab refugee complex on July 25, 2011
A Somali woman stands in front of Somalis queuing outside the reception center in Ifo refugee camp, one of three camps in Kenya's Dadaab refugee complex on July 25, 2011
Michael Onyiego

With millions being affected by the ongoing famine and instability in Somalia, the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya are seen by many desperate Somalis as a safe haven. But for some, the journey to Dadaab has only brought more hardship.

An estimated 1,300 Somalis are crossing into Kenya every single day in search of salvation from the ongoing suffering at home in Somalia. Word of sanctuary at Dadaab has spread across much of the country, prompting many to risk the long journey - often on foot - in hopes of a better life.

Famine in Somalia

Many do not survive the journey, which can take more than a month. But those who do survive often find respite in the form of plentiful food, water and shelter provided by the humanitarian agencies operating in the camps.

For some, however, salvation is not so quick in coming. The massive influx of refugees over recent months has inundated the camps, straining the resources of those agencies trying to help. When refugees first arrive in Dadaab, they are provided with an initial food ration meant to last until they are officially registered and receive ration cards.

But with so many refugees arriving every day, registration can take too long, leaving people to fend for themselves while awaiting the precious designation of registered refugee.

Nurta Heirat left Baidoa with her two children in June to escape the oppression of the Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab. The family walked for 20 days to reach Dadaab, where they received their initial rations. But now, after more than two weeks in the camps, their food has run out.

Nurta returns to the UNHCR registration center in the Dagahaley camp each day in the hope of receiving her ration card but has so far had no luck.

Heirat and her children do not yet have a tent to sleep in. It was only through chance that she found her cousin Abdirashid Hajj at the camp, who has provided them with some support during the past week.

Newly arrived Somali refugees queue for relief food at the Dadaab refugee camp, near the Kenya-Somalia, July 23, 2011
Newly arrived Somali refugees queue for relief food at the Dadaab refugee camp, near the Kenya-Somalia, July 23, 2011

Nurta's story is unfortunately common. The massive human pressure created by the recent Somali exodus has distribution systems at a breaking point, something humanitarian organizations are trying to address.

Rose Ogola, a spokesperson for the World Food Program at Dadaab, says "Initially when we started giving food here at the reception centers, we started by giving a 15-day ration in the hope that these people - within those 15 days - will have been registered and we can put them in the general manifest. However, because of the large influx, we realized this was not working. So since the 15th of July we changed that strategy and instead of a 15-day ration we are now giving a 21-day ration."

With refugees continuing to stream into Dadaab, it is likely the 21 days will not be enough. Some arrivals have reported waiting for up to 40 days for ration cards, leaving them helpless in the interim.

And challenges also exist once refugees are settled within the camps. Yusuf Ali and Fatumah Muhamud came from Somalia in 2008 to escape the fighting in their area. They were initially settled in the Dagahaley camp and had little problem until their 15-year-old daughter was raped. The parents reported the crime to UNHCR, who promptly arrested and jailed the man responsible.

But relatives of the attacker began to cause problems for Ali and Muhamud, demanding that they leave Dagahaley, and even attempting to kidnap their daughter. Recently, Ali and Muhamud moved their family out of Dagahaley for fear of continued reprisals from the family of the attacker. They have since been sleeping near the Dagahaley registration center in the hope of being moved to another camp or another area of Kenya.

Though refugees throughout the camps in Dadaab do find refuge from the numerous problems of Somalia, for many the hardships of the journey and the challenge of rebuilding their lives prove too costly.

Janet Ndoti-Ndila, who works for Care International as the lead psychological counselor in Dagahaley, says some of those she speaks with actually regret their decision to leave.

"Especially on the way sometimes they lose property. So that is one of the things that will make them say, 'I should not have come," she said. "We've lost property, I've lost my cattle, I've lost my gold. I have nothing.'"

UN World Food Program Executive Director Josette Sheeran meets newly arrived Somali refugees at the Dadaab refugee camp, near the Kenya-Somalia, July 23, 2011
UN World Food Program Executive Director Josette Sheeran meets newly arrived Somali refugees at the Dadaab refugee camp, near the Kenya-Somalia, July 23, 2011

Aid groups including Care, the World Food Program and the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, are scrambling to meet the needs of Dadaab's mushrooming population, but the resources available are simply not enough. Around one half of the estimated $2 billion needed to address the east African crisis has been delivered thus far.

Shortages of critical items such as tents mean refugees receive only plastic sheets for constructing shelter on the outskirts of the camps. With humanitarian resources strained to the limit, many refugees will simply have to wait for the reprieve they have traveled hundreds of miles to find.

You May Like

Gun Nation

This is who America's gun owners are More

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs