News / Africa

Refugees Fear Insecurity in Kenya, Return to Somalia

Newly arrived Somali refugees line up to wait for the reception center to open at Ifo settlement at Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp, situated northeast of the capital Nairobi near the Somali border, September 1, 2011.
Newly arrived Somali refugees line up to wait for the reception center to open at Ifo settlement at Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp, situated northeast of the capital Nairobi near the Somali border, September 1, 2011.
Gabe Joselow
Rising insecurity in Kenya's Dadaab refugee camps is prompting hundreds of refugees to return home to Somalia.  Residents of the camps say gangs of bandits have made life too difficult for many of those who came to escape war and famine.

The Dadaab refugee camps in northeastern Kenya were supposed to be a sanctuary for Somalis escaping violence and food shortages at home, but in recent years, refugees at the camps have come increasingly under threat.

Abdirisack Mohammed is a journalist and a refugee who has lived in Dadaab for 21 years.  He says the insecurity has become particularly bad in Ifo and Ifo 2 camps, which mostly house refugees who fled the famine in Somalia in 2011.

“In fact, when we were interviewing them they were telling us that they faced torture, rape and looting in Dadaab, especially Ifo 2, and that forced them to leave the camps," said Mohammed. "I remember a mother told us she came to refugee camps to get protection, not to get raped and all these sorts of inhumanities.”

Mohammed says bandits have been going around, mostly at night, demanding money and attacking camp residents.

“In fact, we feel bad living in an insecurity area, but we don't have any other option, rather than leaving the Dadaab refugee camps,” he said.

Violence has become a regular occurrence in Dadaab.  Earlier this week, two people were killed in a grenade attack at the Dagahaley camp.  A homemade bomb blast in December injured one person at Ifo 2.

The attacks have often targeted Kenyan government installations and personnel, while Kenyan security forces also have been killed in the town of Garissa, about 100 kilometers from Dadaab.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), which oversees the camps, says it is not clear if those behind the attacks are from within Kenya or whether they are militants who have crossed over from Somalia.

UNHCR External Relations Officer Mans Nyberg told VOA's Somali Service that about 100 people are leaving the camps each day.

“There are various reasons and it's very difficult to say whether these movements are moving back to Somalia permanently or if it's just temporary and maybe they intend to come back to Dadaab later on.  But it is [a] voluntary movement and spontaneous movement,” said Nyberg.

Nyberg says UNHCR has not been facilitating the return of refugees to Somalia, and does not have a presence on the other side of the border.

The Kenyan government has been putting pressure on Somali refugees blamed for contributing to violence in the country.  In December, the head of Kenya's refugee agency ordered all refugees living in Nairobi and other cities around Kenya to relocate or return to the Dadaab camps, which already hold nearly 450,000 people.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid