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Influx of Daadab refugees poses security risk
Newly arrived Somali refugees wait outside the registration center at Ifo camp in Daadab refugee camp July 10,2011 North Eastern Kenya.
AFP PHOTO/SIMON MAINA Newly arrived Somali refugees wait outside the registration center at Ifo camp in Daadab refugee camp July 10,2011 North Eastern Kenya.  

Daily Nation
Sunday, July 15, 2012

Gaps in aid to Daadab refugee camp could worsen insecurity in the East African region if not addressed, a new report says.

Seven international aid agencies that run the camp are urging the international community to address insecurity fears that have become a challenge for the Kenyan government.

The report which was released this week warns that the camp faces critical funding problems for the half a million people living there.

Daadab, situated in northern Kenya, is the largest refugee camp in the world. Last year's influx saw 160,000 Somalis arrive into the overcrowded camp.

"The funding shortfall means people who have fled unimaginable suffering are not getting the care they need. As well as the human cost, there is also a cost to security in the region.

"If children are not going to school and if people do not have proper shelter and other services, this has the potential to fuel further militarisation, violence and instability," said Stephen Vaughan, head of CARE Kenya.

Oxfam, Care, International Rescue Committee and other agencies say at least 200,000 people will be affected if $25m isn't immediately raised to provide clean water supplies and new shelter.

“Dadaab's population increased by a third in the past year to over 465,000 people, and the needs in the camp are greater than ever before,” the report says.

“Yet as global attention has shifted, funding for the camp has not kept pace. The impact of the funding shortfall, is already being felt by refugees across Dadaab and will get worse over the coming months.”

“Health services are overcrowded and under equipped. 164,000 children - over 70 percent of those in Dadaab - are currently out of school.

“Lack of education and employment opportunities increases the potential for disenfranchised youth to be recruited into militia and banditry.”

The report says that education is vital to equip refugees to contribute to the reconstruction, peace and stability of their home country and the wider region.

Children who do go to school attend classes of over 100 pupils and only one in five teachers have formal training. The aid agencies also say that twenty per cent of families in Dadaab face threats, harassment and discrimination.

Women and children face sexual violence while collecting firewood or walking long distances to use poorly-lit latrines. Reports of sexual violence increased by 36 percent between February and May 2012.

Yet funding for protection programmes has decreased, and there are not enough trained staff to provide psychosocial care.

Refugees without proper shelter are particularly vulnerable.

"Refugee camps are only temporary solutions and the situation is increasingly untenable. Funds are needed now to save lives, but we can't keep pumping money in year after year while the camp keeps getting bigger.

"A change in approach is urgently needed. However, right now, the world has an obligation not to turn its back on Dadaab and the needs of the people there," said Nigel Tricks, head of Oxfam in Kenya.


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