Somalis face wait for aid in Kenya

2011-07-06 11:40

Dadaab - Thousands of Somalis fleeing a bruising drought in the Horn of Africa are facing a long wait to enter overcrowded camps and receive aid when they cross into neighbouring Kenya.

Weakened by hunger at home, then by several days of walking or travelling on open trucks in the baking sun, the refugees are pouring into the area around Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp.

"The cattle all died and we could not get any food so we fled," explained 32-year-old Maryan Abdullah, as her six small children huddled round her sharing the last of the milk that another family had given them.

"We travelled for seven days by road and when we arrived here last night I depended on handouts from neighbours to give the children something to eat," she said gesticulating at her offspring, most of whom were barefoot.

Maryan, her face framed in a voluminous blue headscarf, is just one among several hundred new arrivals waiting to get into Dadaab at the Dagahaley registration point.

"This drought was very severe, because it was the second in a row," explained Bashir, who like Maryan, comes from the Sokow district in south Somalia's Bay region.

"We were going without food, the animals were dying so we took the few remaining animals to the market and sold them and I received a big bag of Somali shillings," he explained.

With that he travelled for four days to the Somali border by lorry under the blistering sun then on the Kenyan side he took a bus to Dadaab.

This is his third day in the camp although he has not yet succeeded in registering and he has survived so far on food donated by other refugees.

Serial droughts

He has joined more than 400 000 fellow Somalis who have fled two decades of war and serial droughts.

Several hours of waiting in the sun to register has started to fray tempers and has led inevitably to a "fast track" entry system for those with money to pay the guards.

Touts move up and down the queues and for a fee equivalent to just over $10 arrange for families to jump the queue - to the anger of the elders and of the new arrivals who do not have any money left.

Aid workers say the situation in Dadaab, which has been at bursting point for years, keeps on getting worse.

In June about 30 000 people - most of them fleeing drought - arrived at Dadaab, five times as many as a year earlier, according to UNHCR, the UN's refugee agency.

"We have registered a thousand people in one day," Idris Farah, the UNHCR's field co-ordinator at the camp told AFP. "Clearly the situation is getting worse."

Built to house 90 000 people and home to more than four times that number, Dadaab was already well over its maximum capacity before this latest influx.

"It still takes too much time for refugees to get proper assistance," Antoine Froidevaux, MSF's field co-ordinator in Dadaab told AFP. "The answer in terms of humanitarian aid is not satisfactory at all at the moment."

Read more on:    kenya  |  somalia  |  refugees  |  east africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Ramphele: ANC can be defeated

The African National Congress can be defeated, Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele has told supporters in Temba near Hammanskraal.


Latest elections multimedia

Watch what happened when we blindfolded Helen Zille and asked her to eat random things
13 days to elections - news you need to know
11 Julius Malema quotes you'll never forget
DA won't get 30% - Zille
  • Thursday Cape Town - 17:22 PM
    Road name: M5 Southbound
    DELAYS between Berkley Road and the N2 Highway
  • Thursday Kenilworth - 17:21 PM
    Road name: M5 Southbound
    DELAYS between Klipfontein Road and the Race Course Road exit
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Mother’s Day special offers!

Spoil mom with these awesome specials that will warm her heart. Shop now!

Twisp – the smoking alternative

Buy any 2 refills for R250 and save R149. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Mother’s Day specials on appliances

Browse our range of Mother’s Day appliances to spoil and pamper mom. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Apple iPad 3 Black 64GB 9.7" Tablet With WiFi & 4G

Retina Display Finally the incredible Retina display technology from the iPhone...

From R7699.00

I'm shopping for:


You may be more sensitive today and can be influenced easily by the energies around you. Try not to be swayed too much by more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.