Inside Dadaab: the ‘world’s largest refugee camp’.

Halkaan ka akhri

As the conflict in Somalia intensifies, the number of people fleeing the fighting between clans across the country has been increasing. Many people are heading across the Kenyan border to the Dadaab refugee camp, which now accommodates around 270,000 refugees, three times its intended capacity. It’s been dubbed the ‘world’s largest refugee camp.’

In the first three months of the year up to 500 people have been arriving each day. They are recorded in the camp’s digital register.

Many have fled the intense fighting in cities like Mogadishu and Kismayo. Many arrive traumatised; this boy got separated from his parents during their flight from Mogadishu in April.

Dadaab is already overcrowded with around 270,000 inhabitants, leading UNHCR to dub it the world’s largest refugee camp. Many are accommodated in tents which are arranged in neat lines throughout the camp.

The huge pressure of people and an ageing camp infrastructure has led to shortages of food and water. The European Commission Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) has provided 3 million euros to rehabilitate the water and sanitation network and 4 million euros for food aid.

The refugees are given support to build semi-permanent shelters in what is a harsh environment. Home-made bricks bake in the sun.

The refugee population is three times larger than the local population who are supposed to remain outside the camp. Local integration of the refugees is not an option, nor is repatriation to Somalia.

Mohammed Noor Hajir arrived in Dadaab in 1992 a year after it was opened. He considers himself to be ‘one of the luckiest men alive’ having escaped Somalia and having been able to bring up his children in a peaceful environment. He’s hoping to be resettled in a third country, probably the United States or Canada. Up to 8600 refugees are expected to be resettled in 2009, a tiny proportion of the camp’s population.

Many of the younger refugees have never lived in Somalia and there are limited education facilities in the camp, leading to worries that a generation of disaffected youth is growing up.

Inside Dadaab, the ‘world’s largest refugee camp’

Sourse Reuters

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