Somali Refugees Face Insecurity Inside Dadaab Refugee Camp

Alex Pena

The Dadaab refugee camp has been home to refugees fleeing conflict and famine in Somalia for more than 20 years. But a recent string of attacks in the area has left many feeling just as insecure as in the home they left. Our reporter visited the camp in Kenya.

Inside Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, 20-year-old Basharah speaks of violence in Somalia. She fled five months ago to create a better home for her child. Now, she worries Dadaab is not the change she was looking for.

“Because of security now, there is no difference between here and Somalia," she said.

The camp is not just an increasingly insecure place for refugees to live. Just 90 kilometers from the Somalia border, militants and criminals have also made Dadaab home.

Camp resident Ablah Ibrahim says this makes a bad situation worse.

“There are people who come with guns at night," she said. "They come and steal our food."

Both Basharah and Ablah live in a section of the camp where two Spanish aid workers were kidnapped in October of last year. They worked for Doctors Without Borders and they are still missing.

Vittorio Opizzi is a field coordinator for the organization and has been working under the new security conditions for the past five months.

“The security situation poses us in a dilemma, [eh] of course having the necessity to adapt our way of working without exposing our team to unnecessary risk, but on the other side to keep our services going," said Opizzi.

They have continued to work in the hospital and other parts of the camp. But, in this section, they have left and so have some of the refugees - including Amina Abdi Ali.

“Some people have left the insecurity here. They’ve gone back to Somalia," she said.

The camp leader, Ali Noor Hassan, has also become frustrated with the lack of police protection in his section.

“This camp is large, and we only have one police post here, and it’s very far from here," he said. "We just wish for them to bring law and order.”

Despite the threats Kenya faces from elements inside Dadaab, Kenya’s police spokesperson, Erick Kiraithe, says police have already exhausted their resources on the camp.  It is the most policed region in rural Kenya.

“The constitution of police in those camps is too high," said Kiraithe. "For us, abnormally high. But because of the complexity,  the kind of people who end up in the camps,  then certainly it requires much closer police surveillance.”

There are currently 300 police officers operating in the camp of nearly half-a-million refugees. They’re fighting both criminals and elements of the terrorist group al-Shabab who have infiltrated the camp.

And, for the refugees living here, unless they return home to Somalia, they will continue to face these insecurities in the world’s largest refugee camp.

This forum has been closed.
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.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs