50,000 Somali Refugees to Arrive in Kakuma
Volume 1, Issue 2 /January 2009
50,000 Somali refugees are to be relocated from Dadaab Refugee Camp in eastern Kenya to Kakuma Camp this year. UNHCR is coordinating the project and plans to relocate 10,000 Somali refugees per month. Current targets are set to transport about 3,000 Somali refugees to Kakuma on a weekly basis.
KANERE spoke to Somali community leaders and recently relocated Somali refugees about the operation.
The Somali chairman explains that relocation is necessary due to insecurity problems and severe overcrowding in Dadaab Refugee Camp. According to recent BBC reports, Dadaab is operating at triple its population capacity. The Somali chairman reports that Somali refugees were being killed by known and unknown armed groups and organizations while living in Dadaab Camp.
Refugees are transported by UNHCR across the country on buses. Recently arrived Somali refugees report that the journey took five days on overcrowded buses, and bad roads made the journey very uncomfortable.
So far, the relocation process has had some negative effects on refugee well-being. The Somali chairman reports that some basic elements of life were not fulfilled for Somali refugees in the initial stages of their arrival to Kakuma. But he assures that UNHCR and NGOs “have been doing their level best” to cater for the life situation of relocated Somali refugees.
Recently relocated Somali refugees told KANERE reporters that they are facing serious challenges. They claim their shelters are in a very poor state, as the plastic tents absorb the sun’s heat and create unlivable conditions. They also report water shortages and congested living spaces. Additionally, they feel that the food rations “just keep reducing” and they are not comfortable with the yellow maize provided in place of wheat flour.
According to several Somali arrivals, the registration process with UNHCR is taking a long time. Ration cards are only issued after registration, so access to food and services is hindered during the waiting period.
Somali arrivals are also concerned that their children will not be given a chance in primary and secondary schools due to the recent “scaling down” of education in Kakuma Camp. UNHCR and LWF have closed ten primary schools (out of 25) and two secondary schools (out of three) in recent years.