UN-run camps for Somalia refugees in Kenya enter 20th year of existence
|Publisher||UN News Service|
|Publication Date||21 February 2012|
|Cite as||UN News Service, UN-run camps for Somalia refugees in Kenya enter 20th year of existence, 21 February 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4f48fcaf2.html [accessed 22 July 2014]|
The original three camps in Dadaab Ifo, Dagahaley and Hagadera were established by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) between October 1991 and June 1992 to host up to 90,000 people. They are currently home to more than 463,000 refugees, including some 10,000 third-generation refugees born in Dadaab to refugee parents who were themselves born there.
During last year's famine in Somalia, arrival rates frequently exceeded 1,000 people a day, UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told reporters in Geneva.
About 30,000 people arrived in June, 40,000 in July and 38,000 in August last year, placing additional strain on services. Local authorities and UNHCR and partners managed to address the influx by establishing reception centres and rapid response assistance for new arrivals.
The agency, the Kenyan Government and other relief organizations have been providing protection, shelter and humanitarian assistance, often under difficult and complex circumstances. Chronic overcrowding, risk of disease, and seasonal floods are among the challenges.
On the 20th anniversary, UNHCR is renewing its appeal to the international community to ensure continued support to the approximately one million Somali refugees in the region, and to Kenya and the other countries hosting them.
The past two decades have also underlined the need for the restoration of peace in Somalia so that the refugees can have a prospect of going back.
The situation at Dadaab is currently extremely challenging. The kidnapping of three aid workers late last year and more recently, the killing of two refugee leaders and several Kenyan policemen, as well as threats against humanitarian staff have forced UNHCR and its partners to rethink the way relief is delivered.
"Life-saving assistance such as the provision of food, water and health care never stopped and has always been our priority," said Mr. Mahecic. "In addition, schools run mostly by refugee teachers have been open and managed to conduct Kenyan national exams at the end of 2011 despite the insecure environment."
Humanitarian agencies have since the end of last year looked at various ways to resume activities, using different methodologies and most importantly, shifting more responsibilities to the refugee communities.