A New Dawn for Somali Relocation to Kakuma
Somali refugees newly arrived from Dadaab Camp encounter challenges and opportunities as they chart new ways of living in Kakuma Camp.
The second phase of the Somali Relocation Exercise kicked off in August 2009, continuing the massive effort to relocate thousands of refugees from Daadab Refugee Camp to Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya. The first convoy of Somalis arrived in Kakuma from Ifo Camp on 15th August, with 158 males and 153 females for a total of 311 Somali refugees.
Before the relocation, these Somali refugees were living in the three sub-camps of Daadab, Dahale, Ifo and Hagarder. They fled their home country due to political instability and economic crisis.
During the relocation process, buses were provided by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). KANERE also confirmed from anonymous source that the relocation may resume in January 2010.
Many said that they were terrorized in the Dadaab camps they previously inhabited. They say that some sub-divisions of Dadaab are close to the border of Somalia, approximately 90km away, making them more vulnerable to terrorist activity. Other serious problems prompting the need for relocation included overcrowding and breakout of disease in Dadaab Camp.
Comparing the situations in Dadaab and Kakuma
Several Somali new arrivals shared their views on security, protection, and social amenities in the two camps of Daadab and Kakuma.
“I was overwhelmed with joy to be relocated, because I had nearly lost my husband in attacks by robbers on one night,” said F.M. in an interview with KANERE at the Somali Community in Kakuma Four.
Many other new arrivals are eager to express their experiences back at Dadaab, where they report being looted, fearing genocide, and falling victim to conflict and robberies.
While visiting new arrivals in Kakuma Four, a KANERE journalist observed that the shelter situation had worsened in recent months, and noted that poor living conditions may expose relocated Somalis to dangerous effects of strong wind, hot sun, or flash floods.
“We were not provided shelter materials or ready-made houses, and I have lived in Kakuma for two months now,” stated H.K., a Somali man.
“When it comes to the issue of shelter, it was good at Daadab, but here we couldn’t even turn up [materials]. So we exchange our food rations for poles so as to erect tents with the materials,” said N.R., a mother of three children.
A major problem cited by the Somali was that their children were not given a chance to attend schools due to overcrowding in school classrooms. The lack of seats has forced LWF Education to reopen two primary schools in Kakuma Four after closing them due to the Sudanese repatriation.
As Kakuma Camp population swells, services and businesses stretched
The relocation has caused Kakuma Camp’s population to swell to an estimated 53,000 refugees. In the ongoing relocation, many activities have been carried out by humanitarian agencies in order to provide better service provision and protection of the new arrivals.
Despite these efforts, the influx of Somali new arrivals has resulted in greater congestion in Kakuma One, Zone Five due to limited availability of business, local banking, social services, and other necessities. The congestion has also led to overcrowding, spread of cholera, and competition for scarce resources among refugees living in the camp.
During the most recent relocation phase, KANERE confirmed that 13,124 Somali new arrivals were received at Kakuma Camp. The group passed through UNHCR Reception Centers and the Department of Refugee Affairs offices.
“As per regulation, we received all the Somali new arrivals and screened them, but the group should leave the center immediately for their ready-made shelters at Kakuma Four,” said an UNHCR agent in an interview with KANERE at the reception center.
The current relocation exercise came to an end on October 9th, 2009, with the last convoy carrying 252 males and 224 females, for a total of 476 people on that trip and a grand total of 13,124 Somali refugees in 2009.
KANERE approached the Office of the Department of Refugee Affairs for an interview, but found the officer gone from the office, despite having scheduled an appointment for consultation with KANERE at that time.