HAP International’s Roving Team has recently returned from Dadaab and Kakuma after completing a three-week follow-up visit. Last year the Roving Team undertook a three-month mission to Dadaab which is the world’s largest refugee camp complex. There are two parallel operations running concurrently in Dadaab, the protracted refugee crisis, which has been ongoing since 1991 and unabated arrival of new refugees from Somalia. During this deployment, one of the key areas the Roving Team focused on was advocating for greater attention to the needs and concerns of the new arrivals and urging for a clear strategy of humanitarian assistance to them.
The Roving Team calls attention to the hardships faced by the new arrivals in Dadaab, who are unable to access basic services such as water, sanitation, or find shelter within the camps, which are congested beyond their capacity.
Kenya’s immigration minister, speaking on World Refugee Day, commented on the heavily congested Dadaab refugee complex. He called for refugees to be moved into the new camp site called Ifo 2 that has the capacity to cater for 40,000 refugees. While this site is ready to be inhabited, approvals from the necessary authorities for the refugees to be relocated to here have not been forthcoming.
The number of refugees that have arrived in the past two months has been around 20,000, which has recently surged to more than 1,300 arrivals per day. That puts this month’s total number of refugees at above 360,000 for a camp that was originally designed to host 90,000.
Currently, 55,000 refugees are living on the outskirts of the camps. The relocation of 40,000 refugees to Ifo 2, will do little to resolve the issue of the huge numbers of refugees that are struggling to survive on the outskirts of the camps.
The huge spike in the numbers of refugees arriving in Dadaab camps has led the UNHCR to declared it as an emergency crisis requiring immediate attention. The humanitarian agencies are operating in under tremendous pressures and stretched beyond capacity. This crisis is a sad reminder of how the plight of affected communities can be forgotten due to the lack of media attention.