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Somali refugees in Dadaab receive aid after years waiting for registration

Wednesday August 24, 2022

Fadumo Isaq Mohamed holding her Dadaab refugee registration card finally issued after three and a half years/Ahmed Abdullahi/Ergo

(ERGO) – Fadumo Isaq Mohamed, 41, and her family of 11 have recently been re-registered in Hagadera refugee camp in Dadaab, northern Kenya, after a three and a half year wait for recognition and support.

They got their first food aid on 25 July, after returning to the camp on 9 January 2019.

“It’s god’s grace, we now have food, and that burden has been lifted off of us. We also have got refugee cards although we still haven’t got the cash stipends which other refugees get, the only thing that we have to buy now is sugar since it’s not included in the food aid package,” said Fadumo.

They have received 259 kilos of rice, 30 litres of oil, 42 kilos of corn and 48 bars of laundry soap to last her and large family until September.

Fadumo’s family gave up their pastoralist livelihood following harsh weather patterns and large scale deaths of livestock in 2010 and left Somalia to seek assistance in Dadaab. After five years as refugees, they returned home to Buale in Middle Juba region in 2015 among a total of 40,000 families who went back to Somalia under a voluntary repatriation programme.

The hopes of rebuilding their lives back in Buale were dashed as they quickly faced constraints including food and water shortage, as well as insecurity, forcing them to consider returning to the refugee camp.

“When I returned [to Somalia], life become instantly hard, there were water and electricity bills to be paid, school fees, and we had to buy food, that was already enough hardship. I quickly thought the refugee camp was a better option. And that is what fuelled my return,” said Fadumo.

However, for a long period of time the refugee registration process in Kenya was stalled and those arriving from Somalia had no access to services of any kind.

“We didn’t get food regularly, I washed clothes to earn a living getting around $5 and all that would go to food. The next day I would go out again without eating breakfast and come back around midday, sometimes at night the children would ask me ‘What do we eat, we are hungry’. I would just entertain them till they slept as I didn’t have food for them,” Fadumo said.

Maryan Hassan Hussein, 30, arrived for the first time in the camp in March 2021 with 13 children including eight belonging to her two sisters who were both killed in Mogadishu in February 2021. She finally got her registration card in July this year.

“Since we got the card, food is no longer an issue, we are better. Last month we got rice and beans, and that is how I feed the kids, we are leading a happy life now,” she said.

But for more than a year in the refugee camp, Maryan and her children depended on handouts from the other refugees who shared their meagre food rations with them.

Maryan said that she sought asylum after facing constant threats from Al-Shabab, who killed her two sisters. They both worked for the Banadir regional administrations as street cleaners.

Mohamed Abdi Samatar, a section leader in Hagadera camp, said the aid organisations needed to treat all the Somali refugees the same.

“When the new refugees were suffering in front of us, it was unbearable. We thank UNHCR and the [Kenyan] government for the registration of these new people and the delivery of food aid. These people have been through very difficult times and as the section leaders we try to advocate for them,” he said.

Mohamed said there is to be a verification exercise of newly registered families in October, when these families should be able to access the cash aid which is known in the camp as ‘Bamba Chakula.’


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