News / Africa

Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp on Edge After Series of Attacks

The United Nations says aid agencies have had to further reduce services at the Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya after a series of attacks targeting security forces in the area. Refugees at the camp say police are now going door-to-door to look for those responsible.

At least three policemen have been killed and many other people injured since late November in grenade and landmine attacks in and around the Dadaab refugee complex.

The violence has intensified following the Kenyan military incursion into Somalia in pursuit of al-Shabab militants. Kenyan authorities have blamed the recent attacks on groups sympathetic to the al-Qaida linked group.

The U.N. humanitarian affairs agency (OCHA) says the security situation has forced aid workers to cut back on services within the camps.

Hassan Bashir, a refugee who has lived at the Dadaab complex for nearly his entire life, says the once-a-month food delivery was one of the essential services that has been curtailed. “The agencies now they have stopped services given to the refugees when the security situation was out of hand. And they were trying to see if maybe the security situation is handled in the highest way so they can start again back to their normal work in the camps,” he said.

Bashir says police in Dadaab have launched a crackdown within the camps and that they are searching refugees homes for suspects in the attacks.

“The kind of reaction was that they go to the blocks and then they try to search the refugees inside the blocks. That's why in the night they go - or maybe in the evening - they go to the blocks and they start now searching and say that maybe 'do you know about what's happening or about these explosions' maybe somebody they see out there they start picking them," Bashir stated. "So these are the kind of things that started happening in the camps.”

Al-Shabab agents have long been suspected of crossing the border along with refugees escaping war and famine in Somalia and hiding out in the camps.

The United Nations says the Dadaab refugee camps received 172,000 new arrivals in 2011, bringing the total population at the complex above 450,000 people.

The Kenyan military has said it has conducted air strikes in southern Somalia aimed at al-Shabab bases where militants had allegedly planned the Dadaab attacks.

Kenya launched its assault against al-Shabab in October, following attacks and kidnappings in Kenya blamed on the militant group.

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