Here is a sixth update on the situation in Dadaab.
The bigger picture
Al-Shabaab announced its withdrawal from Mogadishu on 6th of August. However insecurity remains a concern for all humanitarian actors in the Somali capital. An estimated 100,000 people have fled to Mogadishu over the past two months in search of food, water, shelter, protection and other help. They join more than 370,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) already present in Mogadishu. UNHCR and other agencies are scaling up their efforts there.
The total number of people estimated to be in need of assistance in Somalia is 3.7 million; 3.2 million of them need immediate, life-saving assistance. About 80 per cent of them are in the south part of Somalia, which means that if they do need to leave the country they will enter into Kenya. Five areas of Somalia are officially declared to be in a state of famine, and the rest of southern Somalia could follow within the next four to six weeks.
There has been an increase in cases of Acute Watery Diarrhea in Mogadishu. This is a symptom which can result from cholera but cholera has not been verified.
In south-east Ethiopia, the immunization of some 18,000 Somali refugee children in the Kobe camp in the Dollo Ado area began on Thursday August 11th, in response to a recent outbreak of measles. A door-to-door screening exercise has enabled the detection of new suspected cases. 93 cases have been identified in the Dollo Ado camps, which host nearly 120,000 refugees. Three measles-related deaths have been verified officially. Apart from measles there is need to address other causes of mortality, mainly malnutrition, diarrhea and respiratory tract infections.
The Kenyan government wants the proposed reception center in Liboi (near the Somali border) to be the only entry point for refugees from Somalia to Dadaab. This may not work practically, however, because currently only 40% of the arrivals today come through Liboi. Sexual and Gender Based Violence is a major challenge to the refugees, with many SGBV cases within Somalia, in Kenya on the way from the border to Dadaab, and also within Dadaab (especially outside of the planned camps).
An outbreak of measles has also been reported in Kenya, in Isiolo North district, and in Kala-azar in Marsabit. Access to water is becoming more problematic in the arid and semi-arid parts of Kenya, due to the high cost of water, dried-up water sources and breakdowns. This is resulting in additional pressure on functioning water points and there is need to target water source maintenance and rehabilitation (boreholes), promotion of water treatment and improved water storage.
The number of refugees entering Djibouti continues to increase. According to UNHCR, there are currently 17,728 refugees in the Ali Addeh refugee camp (that has a normal capacity of 7,000).
Arrivals in Dadaab
The influx of refugees to Dadaab continues at a rate of up to 1,500 new arrivals/day. The average is slightly less, however, and we believe August will see about 35,000 – 40,000 people arriving at Dadaab. This would push the total number of refugees there to be more than 475,000. To ensure continual rations for the refugees and those awaiting registration, the current stock levels of various commodities in Dadaab are low at 7,700 tons which is barely one month’s supply. With the current population, 24,000 tons of the required assorted commodities would be ideal.
The nutrition sector has reported that 50 percent of admissions at the feeding programs are new arrivals. Outpatient and inpatient therapeutic feeding programs now have 4,780 children with acute malnutrition. Measles have also been reported among the new arrivals, 90 cases have been verified.
Mr. Fafa Attidzah (the Head of Sub-Office, UNHCR Dadaab) has announced that agencies can begin project activities at both sides of Ifo refugee camp extension. The green-light has been received from the relevant Government Authorities, and Ifo 3 and 2 can therefore be used.
More than 16,000 refugees have now been settled in the extension of the Ifo camp that we call Ifo 3, and this week we plan to move people into a new site, Kambi Oos near Hagadera south of Dadaab, and also into the other extension of Ifo called Ifo 2. It shall be noted that even with the new sites that are now being opened (the Ifo extensions and Kambi Oos), the total (planned) capacity of all the camps combined will be somewhere between 300,000 and 350,000. Therefore, there will still be issues of congestion and of refugees settling on the outskirts of the planned camps. With this congestion and settling on outskirts there will be challenges to establish open areas, Child Friendly Spaces, schools, enough roads, etcetera and congestion also means greater risks in terms of e.g. a fire outbreak, diseases spreading (especially when the rains come and we know that some areas become flooded), conflicts within the camps, protection becomes more challenging etcetera.
By August 11 a total of 6,641 plots had been demarcated and 57 km of roads had been cleared by the LWF, in the Ifo extension and Kambi Oos, other agencies are now pitching tents here.
I again want to sincerely thank all of you for the support given to our work in Dadaab, and also in Kakuma/Turkana and Djibouti! All funds received are immediately channeled to the activities implemented on the ground. So far we have raised about 40% of the funding requested under the LWF part of the Somalia appeal (appeal SOM 111) and some has also been raised 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. With the rains in October, that we hope will come, new challenges of flooding and disease outbreak is likely – before then several problems including re-location of refugees settled n the flood –prone outskirts need to be addressed. In January 2011 we 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.