News / Africa

Somalia Famine Refugees Joined by Others Fleeing Insecurity

Kenya's military offensive against Islamic extremists in southern Somalia is sparking concern about a fresh exodus of Somali refugees to camps in Ethiopia.


The rainy season has arrived in most of the Horn of Africa, raising hopes for an end to the drought that destroyed the last few harvests, triggering famine in Somalia.

Hundreds of thousands of Somalis have already fled the famine zone to camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.

The reception center at the Dollo Ado, Ethiopia, camp receives hundreds of refugees a day.

Anne Laako of the United Nations refugee agency helps to register the new arrivals.

She says there is a new category of refugee joining the families with malnourished children.  They are mostly men, escaping al-Shabab, the militant group that has imposed its extreme vision of Islam on southern Somalia.  

"It's not only the drought and famine but it's restrictions of movement by al-Shabab, and those combined.  It's more difficult to move to where they used to move in order to get food and in order to get water and these things," Laako said.

Samuel Emmanuel of Ethiopia's refugee agency ARRA is coordinator of Hilaweyn camp, one of four facilities housing 130,000 refugees in the Dollo Ado complex.

He says construction has begun on another camp as fresh fighting forces more Somalis to flee what is becoming both a famine zone and a war zone.

"At this time the situation in Somalia is going from bad to worst. Al-Shabab is creating a drought disaster, and we are about to open a 5th camp due to the influx which is coming from Somalia," Emmanuel stated.

Ibrahim Ismael Haji fled southern Somalia a month ago with his wife and nine children.

They chose life as refugees not because of the famine, but to escape al-Shabab's harsh brand of Islamic Sharia law.

"People have a lot to be scared of from al-Shabab, things like beatings and beheadings. My family will have to accept life as refugees until Somalia is safe again," Haji said.

Mohamed Aden Osman arrived in Dollo Ado just this week. The 22-year old tells of a hazardous nine-day journey to the border, during which he was captured by al-Shabab and held for 48 hours. "Boys my age are just what al-Shabab is looking for. I was only freed after lying my captors," he said. "Promising I would go back home."

UNHCR's Anne Laakko says after a long day of interviewing new arrivals, she tries to imagine how bad conditions must be in Somalia if people are choosing to give up their homes for the boredom and harsh conditions of a refugee camp.

"It's difficult to stop thinking about it. I'm constantly thinking about it, and how the people are after they registered here, and if it's any better for them here than it is back home. And it is a very desperate situation," she said. "Here they [have] access [to] basic services but it's still a very difficult life."

Whether they are fleeing famine or fighting, the half million Somalis now in camps in Kenya and Ethiopia know that barring any unforeseen breakthrough, life as a refugee is their lot for the foreseeable future.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China to Invest $20 billion In India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high profile visit More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid