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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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