News / Africa

No Safe Place for Somali Women Refugees in Kenya

Somali refugees wait in line to receive food rations at a World Food Program distribution point in Ifo Camp, outside Dadaab, Kenya, July 15, 2011
Somali refugees wait in line to receive food rations at a World Food Program distribution point in Ifo Camp, outside Dadaab, Kenya, July 15, 2011
Gabe Joselow

In the maternity ward at a hospital on the Hagadera refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya, women refugees lay on beds nursing newborns or waiting to give birth.

Katlum Mohammed, 22-years-old, has just arrived at the camp from central Somalia.  She lays on her side, nine months pregnant with her first child.

For her, this has not been an easy journey. She said her husband died in the fighting between government forces and al-Shabab.  “He was not part of any group,” she says, “he was a civilian. I have undergone a lot, and my way here was so tiring.”

And while walking to the border in Kenya, she and the others in a group of six were robbed, again, by Al-Shabaab.

Her story is unfortunately not unusual.

The maternity clinic here, run by the International Rescue Committee, has seen a steep rise in pregnant refugees since June, as a worsening drought in East Africa forced many to flee.

Before the sudden influx, doctors at the clinic say they were delivering about 40 babies a week.  Now it is twice that.

And while the health care is good for now, most new arrivals are unable to find space in the overcrowded camps, so they are pushed to the lawless outskirts.

Aisha Abdul-Karim lives on the edge of the Hagadera camp. She said, “we have had problems here since we arrived four days ago.  I have nothing and am staying with my sister.  We do not have space to build a structure. We have nothing.”

It is difficult to police the outskirts of the camp, where new arrivals set up their huts anywhere they can find a piece of land.

Sinead Murray is the gender based violence program manager for the International Rescue Commmittee.  She said women here on the outskirts are the most vulnerable.

“It's at nighttime, when women and girls are sleeping in their tents, if they have tents and that men are coming into those, but also for those that do not have tents, that they're in these makeshift tukus (structure made out of sticks) that anybody can just lift the sheet and enter it," she said.

Murray and her colleague Liz Pender routinely patrol these areas looking for potential risks.  That could include a settlement that is too close to the bushes, a long walk for firewood, and the placement of latrines.

“Even when there are latrines, they're going to the forest, which is very dangerous, they're being attacked in the forest.  We just passed a row of latrines that are right in the middle of a walkway, I imagine that especially adolescent girls wouldn't be comfortable using a latrine that's right in the middle of a walkway," said Pender.

Murray and Pender keep records of their findings in the outskirts so that authorities have a reference for securing these areas.  But,  international organizations are having to keep their distance, since the land is not actually part of the camps, but is owned by the local communities.

And while the government has indicated it is ready to open an existing site to new refugees, such a move is unlikely to occur any time soon.

So with more than one thousand refugees pouring in every day, many of them women, the crisis on the outskirts is only likely to get worse.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid