by Lennart Hernander, LWF Representative, Kenya/Djibouti Program
Here is the eleventh update on the situation in Dadaab (26th Sept. 2011)
I want to underline that the intention of these updates is not to replace any other kind of formal appeal or project reporting, situation reports linked to the ACT appeal, etcetera. The purpose is only to fairly regularly and briefly update our related agencies, supporters and friends on the general situation in the Horn of Africa region and in specifically in Dadaab, with a focus on issues relevant to the LWF and the LWFs response. Other reports with more specific information, spending, number of people we reach etcetera are done as per various regulations and agreements.
The bigger picture
The UN now says they that “tens of thousands” of people have died during this crisis which is said to be East Africa’s worst drought for 60 years. The region of Bay in Somalia becomes the sixth area to be officially declared as a famine zone. The situation in the Bay region is “worse than anything previously recorded”, according to the senior UN technical adviser Grainne Moloney. “The rate of malnutrition [among children] in Bay region is 58%. This is a record rate of acute malnutrition” she said.
In Kenya’s Wajir district, just across the border from Somalia, health workers are reporting an increase in the number of malnourished children.
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) regional office has reported that at one hospital in Mogadishu, more than 6,000 cases of cholera and diarrhea have been reported since January of this year. Meanwhile the situation in Mandera district, in Kenya near the Somalia border, continues to deteriorate. Many herders have lost 80 to 90 per cent of their livestock, poverty levels in El Wak are at 66 per cent and malnutrition rates are at 33 per cent (reported by ADRA).
On the 15th of September, there were 437,797 registered refugees at the Dadaab camps. 130,289 of them have arrived during 2011. In total, there are now more than 571,000 refugees in Kenya, with the Somali refugee population n Kenya estimated at 490,000 people. The total number includes refugees in Kakuma refugee camp (about 80,000) and Urban refugees (mainly in Nairobi).
Arrivals in Dadaab
On September 20, 2011 1,703 refugees and asylum seekers were registered at Dadaab. 1,678 refugees and 25 asylum seekers. 1,496 of them were new arrivals (mainly from Somalia – 1,486 – but also from Ethiopia, Sudan and Burundi). 207 of the new registrations were babies born in the Dadaab camps.
On September 22, 2011 1,373 refugees and asylum seekers were registered at Dadaab. 1,358 refugees and 25 asylum seekers. 1,304 of them were new arrivals (mainly from Somalia – 1,290 – but also 14 from Ethiopia, all of the Ethiopians being asylum seekers). 69 of the new registrations were babies born in the Dadaab camps.
Some of these registrations come from the so called backlog (people who have arrived earlier but not been registered). But the registration is now reported to be more or less up to speed with reception and all new arrivals are now registered within three days.
I mention these two days only as two examples of how the camps in Dadaab keeps growing, more refugees come, some few asylum seekers also come, and most of the people arriving are from Somalia seeking refuge from famine and war in their own country.
There are also an increasing number of birth registrations. As all of us understand, a number of deaths also occur every day. We do, however, not have the statistics on the number of deaths, the process for registering deaths is slightly more difficult and some people will bury their family members and not immediately think of registering this with the camp authorities.
The average daily arrival rate (new persons) is still reported to be about 1,100 people per day over a longer period of time.
The so called “backlog” in registration that has been mentioned earlier, had by September 20 officially been reduced to 1,909 people from a figure of more than 40,000 mentioned before. This reduction in the backlog is due to several reasons; some people have died between the time of arrival and registration, some have decided to try their luck finding their way to Nairobi or Mombasa, some were received twice by mistake as the procedures during the initial stages of the emergency was rather confused, some have not shown up for registration thinking that the arrival procedure was enough, some fear registration as they may have political reasons for fleeing, etcetera. But some of the people that were received were “old” refugees posing as new arrivals (so called “recycles”) and some were Kenyans from the host community posing as refugees, in order to receive some non food relief items. Some distribution over the past months has therefore been to persons the support was not intended for, how many this might be is very difficult to establish. It is also important to understand that all “true” refugees have been supported and that as the registers are now cleared and verified, any support given to persons that it was not intended for has been stopped. Further verifications is ongoing, and one important factor to consider will be the death rate during the waiting period.
UNHCR has as a result of this, discontinued issuance of food and non-food items at the reception centre. New arrivals will now be issued only with a 3-day ration of BP5 biscuits (high protein biscuits) at the reception to cover their nutritional needs until the completion of registration. Issuance of core relief items packages and food rations will only be done upon completion of full registration by the Department of Refugee Affairs (DRA) and UNHCR. DRA now have the capacity in Dadaab to register new arrivals, this was not the case in the initial stages.
More than 45,000 persons have been relocated from the so called camp outskirts (outside the old camps) to the new sites in the Ifo extensions and in Kambi Oos. The relocation to Kambi Oos is however on hold at the moment, following demands by some members of the host community for compensation from the Kenyan government for the land being used as a refugee camp.
Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV)
SGBV has been highlighted lately, and there have been several cases of rape, attempted rape and sexual assault reported. One report also claim that there are cases of women selling sex in some of the camps. This is taken very seriously by all partners, and efforts are made e.g. through the Community Peace and Security Teams (CPSTs) to improve protection through better awareness and more patrolling, through improved planning (e.g. water and sanitation facilities close to the homes), involving the Kenyan police in investigations, through the LWF social workers and in other ways.
LWF is also planning e.g. to provide security lights in parts of the Dadaab camps (we have done this with encouraging results in a few parts of the Kakuma camp previously), to increase the number of CPSTs, and provide clothes for women and children. To prevent SGBV – and to detect, report, investigate and manage cases when they have happened – is a responsibility for all partners, NGOs and the UN agencies.
A CARE vehicle was recently carjacked near the Hagadera Camp. The UNHCR have received unconfirmed information from various sources that there are more carjackers/gunmen/bandits in the Dadaab area looking to target humanitarian vehicles. At this stage it is very difficult to verify the information, but it can neither be rejected.
The recent incidents in Dadaab include;
- On 14th September two armed men (suspected Al Shabaab operatives) were arrested en-route towards the Hagadera camp
- On 15th September two armed men were arrested in Kulan (this is between Dadaab and Liboi, at the Somali border)
- On 16th September the Police issued an advisory to the effect that information had been received that Al – Shabaab intended to attack humanitarian staff and assets in the Dadaab area
On 19th September a CARE vehicle was hijacked with the driver. To date the driver and vehicle are still missing. Unconfirmed information is that the driver and the vehicle are already in Somalia
These series of incidents within a space of a week are indeed a source of serious security concern.
The LWF continues to operate in all camps, but have increased the security routines further and had additional security briefings with staff. We keep monitoring the situation closely, and in the event of credible security threats or information, e.g. planned external visits will be cancelled or postponed.
UNHCR and all agencies in Dadaab are now planning for 2012. The ‘most likely scenario” according to UNHCR is that there will be 550,000 – 600,000 refugees in Dadaab in 2012, 100,000 in Kakuma and 100,000 urban refugees in Kenya. More resources are needed in Dadaab especially resources for a longer term commitment. More partners might also be needed as all present partners are stretched in their work. More partners however also mean more coordination.
The LWF and other partners are in discussions with UNHCR about the future, and there might be some changes when more camps open up and more agencies are invited to respond.
Kakuma, Djibouti and Kajiado
This time there has not been much mentioning of Kakuma or Djibouti in this update, but the situation is challenging also there. More information will be provided about these areas in the next update. I want to express our sincere gratitude for the additional support that has been given for Kakuma and Djibouti by some partners in addition to supporting Dadaab. This is very much needed and activities are being implemented in these areas as well.
We have received nearly USD 50,000 for a relief intervention to be implemented by one of the LWF member churches in Kenya; the Kenyan Evangelical Lutheran Church (KELC). A MoU has been prepared and their work will begin this week, in Kajiado district.
Thank you once again for all your support, in various forms and of various types. It is highly appreciated!
We want to mention here that the LWF is a founding member of the ACT Alliance, which works as a coordination network. In case of an Emergency, ACT will coordinate all implementing partners in the area through a joint ACT Appeal. The Appeal serves not only to coordinate implementing partners, but also to coordinate funding.
This is done so that more effort can be put on implementation and less on writing proposals and reports. In an emergency there is limited capacity to provide individualized information to the numerous of potential partners who generously express their willingness to support. The LWF Kenya – Djibouti program therefore appreciates when funds are made available for the response through the ACT Appeal system, or directly to us with the approval and understanding that we will utilize the funds within the appeal budget (and not develop separate small projects). This minimizes time and resources spent on administration and coordination.
When a partner needs to comply with back donor regulations or have other reasons to have separate concept papers or proposals developed, we understand that this is sometimes needed. You are welcome to discuss this with us. For administrative reasons this need, however, to be on a larger scale.
Funding for more long term support is very welcome. Such projects need to be on a larger scale preferably with a commitment for a longer period of time. The needs in Dadaab, Kakuma and Djibouti will be there for several years to come. Support is very much appreciated also after the current crisis and emergency phase, and after the work that is now implemented under the ACT Appeal is over.
Today the LWF Kenya – Djibouti program signed an agreement with the WFP to continue the general food distribution in the Kakuma refugee camp.