News / Africa

Insecurity Grows in Somali Refugee Camps in Horn of Africa

Refugees stand outside their tent at the Ifo Extension refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border (File)
Refugees stand outside their tent at the Ifo Extension refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border (File)
TEXT SIZE - +

The United Nations refugee agency warns of growing insecurity in camps sheltering hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees in the Horn of Africa.  The UNHCR says the situation is particularly worrisome in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee complex, the largest refugee settlement in the world.    

Nearly one-half million refugees, most of them Somalis, are living in Dadaab. The U.N. refugee agency says it is extremely concerned about their safety. It says the camp’s inhabitants have been under threat from improvised explosive devices, kidnappings, vehicle hijackings and banditry over the past few months.

UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic says most of the security incidents probably are a result of banditry, which is very high. But, he does not exclude that so-called other elements also are involved.

“Things got somewhat more serious in October when we had the kidnapping of three aid workers and certainly with the bombings that clearly targeted the police force in Dadaab.  Four police officers were killed, three wounded, said Mahecic. "And certainly, there are elements clearly there who whether they have infiltrated or they come and go, it is not really clear and it is really impossible to say.”  

The Kenyan government sent hundreds of troops into southern Somalia following the spate of kidnappings in Dadaab and other areas near the Somali border in October. The government blamed al-Shabab militants for the kidnappings and vowed to subdue the Islamist group.

The Kenyan military presence in southern Somalia has increased fighting in the region. At the same time, the situation in the Dadaab refugee camps was starting to become more dangerous.  

Mahecic says the Kenyan authorities are investigating the killings along with other risks and abuses against refugees. He says the threats in the camps are seriously curbing the ability of aid agencies to do their job.  

He says humanitarian workers are continuing to provide basic services such as health, food, water, sanitation, education and protection. But, many other programs are no longer available.

“In addition to the life-saving services, there is a whole range of services that are usually being offered to the refugees, which could include from the vocational training, special counseling, psycho-social workshops, some special programs for women, etc.," said Mahecic. "So, there is a very broad range of different activities. You have to remember this is a camp of a size of a town in the middle of sand.  But, these people have the needs like everybody else in the world and the aid agencies are trying to cater to all those needs.”  

In the meantime, the U.N. refugee agency says it is becoming fearful about the security situation in the Dollo Ado camps in Ethiopia. It says that on Wednesday, three armed men dressed as civilians fired on a vehicle belonging to a private international aid agency when it refused to stop. Fortunately no one was hurt.

While this was an isolated incident, the UNHCR says aid agencies have stopped all but essential services while an investigation is underway. It says security for humanitarian staff is being increased.

You May Like

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid