Here is a fifth update on the situation in Dadaab.
The bigger picture
Famine has now been declared in three new areas of Somalia. The estimated number of people in need of assistance in the region has risen to above 12,420,000. The highest number is reported (by UNOCHA) to be Ethiopians (4.6 million), followed by Somalis (4.4 million out of which 0.7 million are living as refugees in Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti). In Kenya 3.2 million are in need of assistance. According to UNOCHA, there are now more than 476,000 Somali refugees in Kenya – most of them in the Dadaab complex of refugee camps, but also in Kakuma and in Nairobi.
Famine is a very, very serious emergency that is only declared when an area has reached the “level 5” on a scale called the IPC (Integrated Phase Classification), a system created by the UN in 2005. Level 5, or famine, means that
– At least 20% of the adult population accesses less than 2,100 kilocalories a day
– At least 30% of the children suffer from acute malnutrition, and
– 2 deaths per 10,000 adults or 4 deaths per 10,000 children due to starvation per day
At least seven people have been killed and several wounded after a gunfight broke out at a camp for displaced people in Mogadishu. It is not clear who was behind the shooting. Some reports said it was government soldiers or militia. WFP has however confirmed that food has been stolen from the camp.
Around Dadaab, water projects such as water trucking and establishing boreholes have helped to ease water stress in most parts of the host community and to some extent along some of the arrival routes of refugees. Partners have supported borehole drilling and repairs, and water trucking – including the LWF/DWS. The Kenyan government has also been carrying out water trucking in this area.
The host community near the Dadaab refugee camps has this week held discussions with the UN regarding concerns of environmental degradation. The need to incorporate environmental rehabilitation in response plans was stressed, since the continued cutting down of trees for firewood and shelter construction has resulted in environmental degradation. The German Cooperation enterprise GIZ/GTZ has been the leading partner in environmental rehabilitation efforts, but all partners in Dadaab need to increase environmental awareness in implementation. Another concern for the host community near Dadaab is that their livestock are at risk due to the drought and added grazing pressure of livestock belonging to refugees. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is currently distributing hay to vulnerable communities and conducting livestock disease control. In Turkana, where LWF/DWS works in the Kakuma camp and with the host community, the drought is also affecting livestock. LWF/DWS there has a program for de-stocking, de-working, vaccination and branding of livestock. This reduces the number of livestock in an orderly manner, the meat can be used, and the remaining livestock is healthier (which means they produce milk, meat and is an asset to the owner) and the risk of theft reduces substantially when livestock is branded.
The total number of Somali refugees in Djibouti, where the LWF/DWS Kenya – Djibouti program also works, stands currently at around 17,000, of whom 70% are women and children. Based on current rates of arrivals, UNHCR expects that the total refugee population in Djibouti may reach 20,800 people by the end of 2011.
There have been some reports of deteriorating security between the Somali border and Dadaab. This is mainly blamed on defectors from the TFG (Transitional Federal Government) forces, and to a lesser extent on al – Shabaab militias or defectors. On the outskirts of the camps security – especially protection for women – remains a problem. LWF/DWS is working to organize, recruit and train more “community police’ (Community Peace and Security Teams, CPSTs) among new arrivals as they settle in Dadaab. At the moment LWF has about 320 CPSTs in the three old camps that provides for security inside the camps.
Reception at the border
There are plans for reception of refugees at the Somali border, in the town of Liboi. According to the Department of Refugee Affairs (DRA), an agreement has just been signed between UNHCR and the Government of Kenya, that Kenya will provide the necessary security for this. This will save many refugees about 70 km of walking. The reception in Liboi will only include an initial medical and security screening, medical treatment for those in acute need, some food and water and transportation to Dadaab. When the center will be opened is still not known.
Arrivals in Dadaab
The influx of refugees to Dadaab continues. The past few days the numbers have been less, we do not know if this is a temporary reduction or a trend. We also do not know the reasons for this. It may be that more aid has been delivered inside Somalia and it can also be that most of those who could afford or had the strength to move have already done so. It is not unlikely, however, that we will see more than 20,000 new refugees arriving at Dadaab during August.
LWF/DWS has decided to concentrate on surveying and demarcation of plots in the extension of the Ifo camp, the so called “Ifo 3” (note that this is not the same as the previously mentioned Ifo 2 camp) and in the new camp, called Kambi Ossi. For the time being we will leave pitching of tents to other partners (we still provide tents, but the pitching is done by others).
The commitment we have as LWF/DWS is to have a minimum of 250 plots ready in both Ifo 3 and Kambi Ossi respectively on a daily basis from Monday 1st August. So far there 3,660 plots have been surveyed and demarcated in Ifo 3 and Kambi Ossi, 18,000 – 20,000 refugees will be settled on these plots.
Education was a gap in the old camps, and the gap is now widening as more new refugees arrive – many of them being children. At the moment there is no education program for the new arrivals. The total number of children who have arrived at Dadaab between January and July 2011 are;
Aged 5-10 years is 20,512 (girls: 9, 787 and boys: 10,725)
Aged 11-18 years: 11,573 (girls: 5,374 and boys 6,199)
Historically, education was seen as part of longer-term development work rather than a necessary intervention in emergency response. Humanitarian relief typically involved the provision of food, shelter, water and sanitation and healthcare. However it has been clearly established that in emergency situations, quality education provides physical, psychosocial and cognitive protection, which can be both life-sustaining and life-saving. Education mitigates the psychosocial impact of conflict and disasters by giving a sense of normalcy, stability, structure and hope for the future. When a child is in a safe learning environment, he or she is also less likely to be sexually or economically exploited or exposed to other risks. Further, all of us have a right to education, those affected by emergencies are no exception.
Gaps in the existing Education program include poor infrastructure, congestion in primary and secondary schools, gaps in special need education (SNE), and also in adult literacy.
LWF/DWS is working with primary education in one of the old camps (Hagadera) and we have expressed interest in working with education in Kambi Ossi (one of the new camps). LWF has recently requested UNHCR to allow us begin with emergency schools in Kambi Ossi and we await response from UNHCR and UNICEF on this. In addition, LWF/DWS also works with education in the Kakuma camp and in Ali Addeh in Djibouti where the need to strengthen pre-school education is particularly high at the moment.
We want to sincerely thank all of you for generously supporting our efforts in Dadaab, and also in Kakuma/Turkana and Djibouti! All funds received are immediately channeled to the activities implemented on the ground. It is fantastic to see how much so many individuals around the world are willing to give and assist people in need so far away!
So far we have raised about 1/3rd of the funding requested under the appeal for our work in Dadaab (appeal SOM 111) and less to the work in Turkana (under appeal KEN 111). We hope for your continued support – every contribution makes a big difference! This crisis will continue for some time, as more refugees still arrive and needs support, protection and care in many different areas. It’s also important to remember that in January 2011 we already had 300,000 refugees in Dadaab – by December we estimate this number to be between 450,000 – 500,000. It is unlikely that they will be able to return home any time soon. Ours – and other partners – efforts in Dadaab will need to be scaled up well beyond the current phase of new arrivals.