Dadaab: praise for expansion of Kenyan camp

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Kenyan government’s decision to open a new section of the overcrowded Dadaab in north Kenya refugee camp is welcomed by ACT Alliance.

However in a letter to Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki, ACT general secretary John Nduna calls on the government to improve protection of refugees and local populations.

The Dadaab camp hosts nearly 400,000 Somali refugees. Up to 1800 arrive each day, a sharp increase on the number arriving a few months ago as famine intensifies in parts of south Somalia.

ACT manages Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, with site planning, refugee community mobilisation, and camp peace and security. It assesses the vulnerability of new arrivals and provides them shelter.

By opening the Ifo Two section of Dadaab, new arrivals fleeing famine and conflict would get more life-saving emergency help. Scaling up the number of safe havens for incoming refugees from Somali was critical in ensuring stability in Kenya’s northeast.

However, ACT cautioned that without a transit or reception centre at Liboi, near the border, new arrivals were flooding into Dadaab in disarray and desperate for help. It urged the government to:

  • improve security for refugees en route to Dadaab. Women and children were vulnerable to attack from bandits
  • reopen the Liboi refugee transit centre so new arrivals could receive shelter and other help en route to the camps.
  • scale up emergency services to cater for the overwhelming number arrivals, many of whom had been walking weeks, and who received insufficient services.
  • ensure Dadaab was equipped to deal with existing refugees and have contingency measures for a surge in arrivals at the camps and surrounding areas.
  • keep investing in improved farming and better water management in an effort to end the cycle of recurrent crises.
  • keep working with the United Nations and Somalia’s transitional government to ensure improved security so Somalis could live safely in their own country.
  • seek more funding from the international community to expand camps and for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

Kenya's Dadaab camp is managed by ACT member the Lutheran World Federation.