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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid