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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More