News / Africa

    Refugee Camp in Kenya Swells to Crisis Point

    A Somali refugee woman stands with her children outside their makeshift shelter at the Dagahaley camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border, (File)
    A Somali refugee woman stands with her children outside their makeshift shelter at the Dagahaley camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border, (File)

    In Kenya, the world's largest refugee camp, Dadaab, gets bigger all the time as Somalis fleeing warfare in their country stream across the border.  The camp now houses several times the number of people it was designed to hold. The Kenyan government was supposed to open a new camp, but has not done so.  

    Up to 10,000 people each month appear at the gates of Dadaab refugee camp in dry, dusty northeastern Kenya, fleeing the misery of war-torn Somalia.

    When Dadaab opened two decades ago, a family of five lived on a plot of land that was about the same area as a small house.

    The U.N. refugee agency's head of the Dadaab office, Richard Acland, says times have drastically changed. "Since August 2008, we had to put second families in each of those and now third families and now we are at the state where we have got about over 42,000 of the new arrivals who are actually outside the camp boundaries because we cannot fit them inside," he said.

    The settlement was built to accommodate 90,000 people.  The population now stands at 352,000 and rising.

    The U.N. refugee agency coordinates the work of 22 aid groups that distribute food and other supplies inside the camp and implement services such as education and health care.  The Kenyan government provides the land on which these aid efforts take place.

    Acland says although the amount of food donations is still adequate, other facilities such as clinics, latrines and wells cannot continue to be built because there is no more room.

    "We are supposed to be able to produce 20 liters (of water) per person per day.  We are restricted on the amount of boreholes we can sink and the number of hours we are allowed to pump per day by the government environmental agency.  And that means it is very difficult to produce that amount, and a lack of clean water also helps the spread of disease," said Acland.

    To ease pressure on the local community, the U.N. refugee agency negotiated with the local community, elected leaders, the provincial administration, and the area's parliament member to acquire more land for another camp, which was granted in December 2009.

    Construction of Ifo II camp began shortly after.  It was designed to house 80,000 refugees at a cost of around $60 million and was to have opened in November 2010.  But the new camp, which has clinics, schools, water and sanitation facilities, sits empty.

    Kenya Department of Refugee Affairs acting senior assistant commissioner Omar Dhadho tells VOA the Kenyan government did not give its official approval, in his words, "at the highest level."

    "The government wanted to have consultations first.  Are there other solutions to the problem of refugees in Kenya apart from building camps?  Because even the host community there has become very hostile," explained Dhadho.  

    Dhadho says one solution might be to build camps within Somalia.

    "If there are areas that are peaceful and the international community can be guaranteed some room for them to operate, then it is wise also to, instead of the whole population coming to Kenya, we need to start some programs in Somalia that can minimize the number who are flocking in the country," said Dhadho.

    The U.N. refugee agency's Acland rejects that suggestion.  He says under international law, Somali refugees have the right to claim asylum in Kenya, and that there is no guarantee of safety anywhere in Somalia, especially when the militant group al-Shabab is active.

    But Dhadho says he thinks it is unfair that Kenya should continue to shoulder the burden of the increasing refugee population. "As a country, we have hosted enough - we have enough refugees in the country.  So the other countries must also come in to assist," he said.

    Somalia has been at war since 1991, with the ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.  Recent fighting between al-Shabab and pro-Somali government forces have increased refugee movements and suffering.

    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora