A report from the Dadaab refugee camp by Al Jazeera’s Nazanine Moshiri
As the drought affecting East Africa forces more people to take to the road, many of them are making their way to the refugee camp of Dadaab in Kenya. Dadaab, which is actually comprised of three separate camps, Dagahaley, Hagadera and Ifo, is the largest refugee camp in the world. Established in 1992 in northeastern Kenya to house refugees escaping the civil war in Somalia, Dadaab was meant to accommodate up to 90,000 people. There are now more than 350,000 people packed into the camp, with new arrivals continuing to pour in each day. With nearly 1400 people arriving at the camp daily, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) estimates that the camp’s population will increase to 450,000 by the end of this year.
Many of the newcomers arriving at Dadaab have walked for days and are dehydrated and malnourished. 80 percent of new arrivals are women and children. According to MSF it takes approximately 12 days for newly arrived refugees to receive their first ration of food. As the camp’s population surges, the provision of essential services such as healthcare, water and sanitation is becoming increasingly challenging. UNHCR figures indicate that mortality among children under five at the camp has trebled in the last few months.
Life for the residents of the camp is difficult and prospects are bleak. The Kenyan government does not honour any of the rights of refugees laid out in the UN’s 1951 convention on refugees. The camp’s residents are physically confined within the camp and face fines, detention and forcible repatriation if caught outside without permits. This leaves refugees with little hope of ever finding employment or integrating into Kenyan society.