News / Africa

    Old Refugees Welcome New Arrivals in Dadaab

    Newly arrived Somali refugees queue for relief food at the Dadaab refugee camp, near the Kenya-Somalia, July 23, 2011
    Newly arrived Somali refugees queue for relief food at the Dadaab refugee camp, near the Kenya-Somalia, July 23, 2011
    Michael Onyiego

    With resources at Kenya’s overcrowded Dadaab refugee camps stretched thin, longtime residents of the camps have extended a helping hand to new arrivals.

    Helping each other

    Upon arrival at the registration center in the Dagahaley refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya, families fleeing the famine in Somalia are greeted by perhaps a surprising sight.  Before receiving even their first rations from the World Food Program, new arrivals to the camps are handed a pack of supplies by their fellow refugees.

    With people pouring in to Dadaab in recent months, long-term residents of the Dagahaley, Hagadera and Ifo refugee camps have joined with the United Nations Refugee Agency, or UNHCR, and other organizations to not only support those fleeing the crisis, but also to welcome them to their new homes.

    Most immediate needs met

    In the registration lines, established residents of the Dagahaley camp distribute new shoes, which are often badly needed by those who have arrived after weeks on foot.  The arriving refugees also receive new clothes and milk for young children in immediate need of nutrition.

    In the Dagahaley registration center, community leader Bashir Ahmed Bir passes out shoes to new arrivals.

    Bir says many of the items being supplied to the refugees are being supplied in the Dagahaley market, through the support of the Muslim community in Dadaab and other cities throughout Kenya. Community efforts have recently been aimed at the new arrivals, and settled residents of the camps have been encouraged to contribute for the new arrivals.

    In recent months, tens of thousands of Somalis have risked the long journey to Dadaab in search of a respite from the ongoing famine in Somalia.  But for numerous camp residents, Dadaab is home.  Around 400,000 now live in the three camps surrounding Dadaab.  Many have been there since the early 1990's, when the last Somali famine sent people streaming across the border. Since then, the camps have evolved from temporary centers of crisis response into true communities, complete with shops, schools, religious centers and outreach programs.

    They have even organized, choosing representatives to lead the camps and communicate on their behalf to the aid agencies working in the area.

    The recent influx of refugees has inundated the already overcrowded camps, creating tensions among those who have been settled for years. But according to recently-elected Dagahaley Community Leader Zeinab Mohamed, community assistance is about more than making room for the new refugees.

    All residents of the camps in Dadaab were at one point forced to flee their homes in Somalia and Mohamed said the old residents of Dagahaley feel the pain of the recent arrivals. Mohamed said the old and new arrivals are all Somali and that the Dagahaley community was ready to help.

    Burial assistance needed

    But community organizations around Dadaab do more than simply welcome refugees; they also provide assistance with more solemn tasks, such as burial of the dead.

    Abdullahi Hussein is the leader of the Dadaab Youth Committee.

    “These families that are losing their loved ones are very poor families. They cannot even dig the grave; they cannot even buy the clothes used to wrap the dead bodies.  We told them that there are such kind of people who are ready to assist you,” Hussein said.

    Hussein told VOA that the Dagahaley community often provides families who have lost loved ones - both in the camps and along the journey - with tools to dig the graves as well as proper burial clothes for the deceased.

    The groups in Dagahaley have also taken on a coordinating role, designating cemeteries in the camp outskirts for new arrivals, to prevent crowding or random burials.  Three burial sites have been opened in the outskirts of both the Dagahaley and Ifo camps, while one has been established in nearby Hagadera.

    The community groups also play a role in counting the numbers who have died in the camps.  With many of the recent arrivals not yet registered with UNHCR, these figures often elude aid organizations working in Dadaab.

    In the 10 days before VOA spoke with Hussein, the youth leader said at least 27 had died in the Dagahaley camp alone, 25 of whom were children.  Hussein says around 85 percent of the deaths observed by his organization are children under the age of 5 years old.

    The United Nations says only half of the $2 billion needed to address the ongoing famine in East Africa has been contributed by the international community to date.  Humanitarian agencies have been strained to the limit trying to cope with the influx in Dadaab, but the local community of refugees appears ready and willing to shoulder at least some of the burden.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.