Dadaab Update 9th July 2011 – by Lennart Hernander, LWF Representative, Kenya/Djibouti Program
Photo – LWF Kenya/Djibouti Program
Here is a second update on the situation in Dadaab, Northeast Kenya. The influx of new refugees began to increases early 2011, and has since then escalated. The total number of refugees that were registered in the three refugee camps in Dadaab between January and May 2011 was 46,852 persons. In June alone another, 38,514 were received.
The majority of the new persons coming are women and children, and they are farmers and animal herders from the regions of Lower Juba, Bay, and Bakool in Sudan. The main reason for fleeing is the prolonged drought that means failed harvests and dying animals, coupled with the regrouping of Al-shabab militias for a possible offensive against Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) positions. On 24 June, the UNHCR Protection Team conducted a monitoring mission to Liboi town, near the Kenyan border with Somalia. They interviewed groups of people who reported to have been trekking for weeks from their places of origin. Interviews conducted by LWF staff with newly arrived people in Dadaab, shows that the average refugee has walked for 15 days before reaching the camp. The LWF contact with the local Kenyan communities has confirmed that the movement pattern appears to be steady for the past several weeks. LWF has also received reports that the Somali town of Dhobley, near the Kenyan border, continues receiving several hundreds of new refugees daily, prompted by drought and insecurity. These are people that are likely to continue across the border, trying to find their way to Dadaab.
All persons arriving at the camps are medically screened (by the medical partners MSF-Swiss, IRC and GIZ). Children below 15 years are vaccinated. The majority of the persons have spent several days, sometimes weeks, walking through the dry land, often without food and with little water. They arrive in Dadaab in very poor conditions. Out of a total of 6,548 children under five screened at the reception centers during June, an average of 17% were moderately, and another 10.5% severely, malnourished. 2.25% were severely malnourished with medical complications. Most of the people arriving are dehydrated and very hungry. Many lack clothing and are bare feet. The Dagahaley host community has, through their religious leaders, been assisting with clothing and shoes but the gap is still big very big.
All refugees undergo a “vulnerability assessment”, by LWF, when they arrive. This is to identify persons with disabilities, social vulnerabilities, female headed households, unaccompanied minors, separated children and unaccompanied elderly persons. When these persons are identified, they are given priority for transport to the registration center for documentation and issuance of ration cards. Discussions are underway with the agencies involved to strengthen the vulnerability screening, identification and referral system at the registration and documentation point for appropriate interventions and follow up in the three camps.
After reception and recognition by DRA (Disaster Relief Agency, Kenyan Government Authority), all new arrivals receive a wrist band for identification and a manifest is generated for distribution of Ready To Use Food (RTUF) or BP5 (high protein) biscuits by the WFP. It was initially envisaged that all new arrivals could be processed in three days, from the first contact at the reception centers to the registration center and back to the camps to receive food, Non Food Items (NFIs) and firewood. The plan was therefore to distribute emergency food supplies, (RTUF/BP5 biscuits) for three days per person at the reception centers. Due to the huge numbers of people arriving and the slow registration process, a 15 day dry ration food is provided by WFP and NFIs in the form of cooking pots, mats and jerry cans and plastic sheets are given to the new arrivals on the day of reception. DRA began finger print scanning new arrivals at reception points on 4th July to validate the new arrivals. This is because there have been some few cases of already existing refugees who tried to pose as new arrivals, in order to receive NFI’s and new (additional) ration cards. The slow pace of registering refugees there are many who cannot receive services such as shelter/tents. Therefore many are living in small unsafe makeshift shelters.
To be able to extend the basic services, including layout of family plots, provision of water and sanitation, health, emergency shelter, education and security in a more coordinated manner on the outskirts of the camps (or rather outside the planned camps), those areas will be planned in a structured manner. UNHCR has asked LWF to do this, and as soon as an agreement with the host community can be reached, we will begin this work.
Water is a big challenge because taps are few and there is a limit to how much water can be pumped from existing boreholes. People have to walk further distances and wait for more than 2 hours in line, to fetch water. There is a need to truck water into the camps as well as to the host community. LWF is in the process of hiring a truck for this purpose.
A joint rapid assessment by Christian Aid and LWF will take place July 12th to identify gaps and possibly adjust the response better.
LWF plans to increase the information sharing activities, to reach all newly arrived refugees settled in the outskirts with information from all other agencies on essential life saving issues like attention to malnutrition and access to basic services.
At the registration point LWF is building a temporary structure where vulnerability assessment will be conducted both by LWF and by other agencies that LWF will refer the clients to, such as unaccompanied or separated children, disabled, elderly or female headed households. Upon identification, LWF social workers conduct home visits and recommend further assistance.
In addition to this, LWF is now preparing to begin distribution of enriched porridge flour to children and to the elderly. Several cases have been identified where elderly and children are too weak to eat dry food. LWF is also planning to distribute clothes, slippers and sanitary wear for women. The clothes are particularly for young girls, as they are expected to dress in a traditional way from the age of around 6 years which may be very difficult for some. Very simple direh and hijab dresses can be made in Dadaab, by engaging host community youth for income generation.
The security situation does not allow assistance along the refugee route (from the Somali border) at the moment, but a joint mission organized by the UNHCR Protection Team, and including LWF, will be done to Liboi next week.
We want sincerely thank you for all the support we have received in various ways the past week! I will inform on the various commitments, and other support received at a later stage. It is very much appreciated and we are trying to make best possible use of it. An ACT alert has been prepared by the ACT Somalia forum, and many different processes are going on simultaneously. Thanks to your flexibility, we have been able to respond quickly and at the same time assess the different situations as they develop, identify gaps and plan for interventions in the weeks and months to come, coordinate with other implementing partners and the UNHCR. The next rains are expected in about four months, this is the period we look at now – hoping and praying that the rains will come at that time, and be good.
With kind regards
PO Box 408 70 – Nairobi
Visit: Gitanga Road – Lavington