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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez 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 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 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.

VOA Blogs