News / Africa

Over 1,000 Somali Refugees a Day Arrive at Kenya Camps

A malnourished Somali refugee at a field hospital of the International Rescue Committee, IRC, in Dadaab, Kenya, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011.
A malnourished Somali refugee at a field hospital of the International Rescue Committee, IRC, in Dadaab, Kenya, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

SOMALIA / DADAAB UPDATE -- There’s no slowdown in the number of Somalis arriving at the Dadaab refugee camps in northeastern Kenya. The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) says thousands more are arriving each week. Drought and famine are forcing many people to walk 15 to 20 days in dry, dusty weather to reach the camps.

“The average daily arrivals for the first week of August was over 1,400 and that brings the new arrivals to that camp so far this year to about 127,000. In July, we had more than we ever had in the 20-year history of the camp. It was over 40,000 people and it looks like we’re well on the way to that again,” said UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond, who spent most of this week at Dadaab. (To listen to interview click on the player below)

Getting bigger

Initially, Dadaab was constructed to hold about 90,000 people. However, it’s been expanded to accommodate several hundred thousand.

“That was a problem for the last couple of years because the Kenyans did not want us to put more people in that camp. But there are so many coming across that we’ve agreed now that we’ll open two new additions to the camp. One of them is called the Ifo Extension, which is part of the old Ifo camp, but it’s a new area there. We’re going to put 90,000 people in that site,” he said.

The second expansion is called Cambios, a totally new camp. It will be the fourth large refugee camp at Dadaab and will also hold 90,000 refugees.

Redmond said, “If the numbers coming in continue as they have been, we’re probably going to fill both of those in the next four to six months.”

Definition of Famine:

The word famine is a term that is not used lightly by humanitarian organizations. The United Nations describes a crisis as a famine only when the following conditions are met:

  • Malnutrition rates exceed 30 percent
  • More than two people per 10,000 people are dying each day
  • Severe lack of food access for large population

Current Famine:

    Almost half of Somalia's population, 3.7 million people, are affected by the current crisis with malnutrition rates in southern Somalia the highest in the world, surpassing 50 per cent in some areas. The United Nations says it is likely that tens of thousands have already have died, the majority of those being children.

    The drought that has led to the current famine in parts of Somalia has also affected people in Kenya and Ethiopia.

    Previous Famines in the Horn of Africa:

  • Somalia 1991-1992
  • Ethiopia 1984-1985
  • Ethiopia 1974

Numbers tell the tale

The large influx of refugees is the biggest sign of drought conditions in Somalia.

“We know that things are exceptionally bad inside Somalia. We’ve got camps besides here in Dadaab. We’ve also got camps in Ethiopia in a place called Dollo Ado and they were earlier getting about 2,000 a month. That’s declined a bit,” he said.

UNHCR staffers have visited the refugee corridors to Kenya and Ethiopia and talked to those seeking food and water.

“They stated if they could they would stay in Somalia if we can get help into them. So that’s going to be the next step, to try to get assistance to people in place so that they don’t have to cross international borders if they don’t want to and can get help there until the rains come and they can go back to their farms,” said the UNHCR spokesman.

Long-term

Many climate and weather experts have forecast continued frequent drought conditions in the Horn of African for years to come. So while emergency efforts are needed to save lives now, long-term policies are also required.

“This has already been a long-range situation, much too long. We’ve been in these camps for 20 years and for most of those 20 years the plight of these Somalis has been largely out of sight. Now that there’s this drought compounding the situation, they’re back on the international radar screen. But it’s been our position all along that first of all there has to be a political solution to this situation in Somalia,” said Redmond.

The UNHCR has called on both the international community and Somalis to find that solution. There has been almost constant conflict in Somalia since the 1990s, following the fall of leader Mohammed Siad Barre. The current Transitional Federal Government and its AU allies have been at war with militias, especially al-Shabab.

“As far as long-term weather patterns and climate change and so on, I mean that’s another major concern on top of this for the Horn of Africa. But, right now, we need peace and stability in Somalia. There are hundreds of thousands of people I think who would go home if they saw a future in that country, but right now they don’t,” he said.

At the Dagahaley refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya, families fleeing the famine in Somalia are given aid, but also face new challenges. VOA's Michael Onyiego visited the camp and took these pictures.

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid