Politics

East African drought uproots thousands

kenyan_refugee_drought_0.jpg

This young Somali refugee has just arrived at Dadaab refugee camp on July 10, 2011 in northern Kenya, where he waits for registration into the safe haven. He joins thousands of other refugees seeking water and aid at Dadaab's already overcrowded facilities.

Credit:

Simon Maina

A drought is directly affecting as many as 11 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, causing them to flee their lands in search of water and food, according to the United Nations.

In addition to this humanitarian disaster, which is the worst drought Africa has seen in 60 years, officials fear the Somali Islamic militant group, Al Shabaab, will try to enter Kenya under the disguise of Somali refugees during this period of chaos. 

The refugees leave their homes when they are hungry and desperate and thenn they face encounters with dangerous animals, criminals, Islamic rebels and a lack of basic nourishment for days. As a result of the harrowing journey, many of the Somali refugees arrive in Kenya near death.  

The refugees who survive this trek arrive at Dadaab, an enormous refugee camp in northern Kenya, to find a scarcity of materials. Dadaab is home to some 360,000 other refugees all seeking some type of aid. The compound is already overpacked and simply cannot house all refugees. 

The U.N. built a new refugee facility, Camp Ifo-II. The camp has remained empty for a year because of Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga's fears that it would encourage Al Shabaab rebels to enter, pretending to be refugees. However, the current drought is so severe that Odinga has agreed to open the Ifo-II camp to refugees and hope for the best in its safety from militants. 

The U.N. has requested $1.6 billion in aid for the refugees but so far it has only received half that amount. As of now, there is no end in sight to East Africa's drought and violence. 

  • somalians_escape_drought.jpg

    Somali refugees line up on July 6, 2011 to board a bus that will take them to the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya in order to escape the drought.

    Credit:

    Roberto Schmidt

  • women_carries_baby_somalian_drought.jpg

    A Somali woman with her baby arrives at a refugee camp in southern Mogadishu, where Somalia's transitional government has set up a new camp for the families uprooted by the severe drought.

    Credit:

    -

  • somalian_refugees_bus_drought_rsz_.jpg

    A Somali mother waits with her child on July 6, 2011 inside a bus that will take them to the Dadaab refugee camp to escape the drought, where they can receive a refugee card that will entitle them to receive food rations.

    Credit:

    Roberto Schmidt

  • somalia_drought__1.jpg

    Another Somali refugee who fled the drought in Somalia sits outside a food distribution point in the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya on July 5, 2011. Even after their arrival, many refugees go days, even weeks, without food aid and proper assistance, according to experts.

    Credit:

    Roberto Schmidt

  • kenyan_refugee_drought_0.jpg

    This young Somali refugee has just arrived at Dadaab refugee camp on July 10, 2011 in northern Kenya, where he waits for registration into the safe haven. He joins thousands of other refugees seeking water and aid at Dadaab's already overcrowded facilities.

    Credit:

    Simon Maina

  • somalian_man_access_water_opt.jpg

    A Somali man gets water at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya on July 4, 2011 where thousands of Somalis have arrived in recent weeks in search of food and water, fleeing from the region's worst drought in 60 years. Dadaab is known as the world's largest refugee camp which was was built for just 90,000 refugees already holds 370,000 people.

    Credit:

    Roberto Schmidt

  • un_commission_refugee_officer_visits_somalia_.jpg

    U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, visits the Daadab refugee camp on July 10, 2011 in northeastern Kenya where thousands of Somalis have fled. Many died of starvation while fleeing due to one of the region's worst droughts in decades.

    Credit:

    Simon Maina