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

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
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 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 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 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.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid