Insecurity Engulfs Somali Refugee Camps in Horn of Africa

The United Nations refugee agency today said the situation is particularly worrying in Somali refugee camps as kidnappings, vehicle hijackings and banditry remains high.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also noted that threat of insecurity has engulfed in and around camps hosting hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees in the Horn of Africa.

“The situation is particularly worrying, complex and tenuous in the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya where the threat of improvised explosive devices remains high.” – Andrej Mahecic, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

A Somali refugee stands inside a tent with her baby in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia. Fleeing drought and famine in their home country, thousands of Somalis have taken up residence across the border in Dollo Ado where a complex of camps is assisted by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Mr. Mahecic also reported that, along with killings of police officers and kidnappings of aid workers. The agency is also witnessing the targeting of refugees. Two refugee leaders who had volunteered to help maintain peace and safety in the camps were murdered at the turn of the year.

Two refugees were killed when Kenyan police tried to quell a riot that broke out in a part of the world’s biggest refugee camp last July 2011.

Mostly Somali residents has swelled to more than 460,000, spawning overcrowding problems in the refugee camp.

Mr. Mahecic said the ability of aid agencies to deliver services is being seriously curbed and humanitarian workers are having to contend with restrictions on movement from Dadaab town to the camps, and police escorts for such movements have become essential.

Although Somalia is the hardest hit of drought, the Horn of Africa crisis is affecting Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti as well.

UN agencies are working with partner organizations to ease the overcrowding within Dadaab and to provide improved health care, schooling, water and sanitation for camp residents.

More than 955,000 Somalis live as refugees in countries neighbouring Somalia – primarily in Kenya (520,000), Yemen (203,000) and Ethiopia (186,000).

A third of them fled Somalia in the course of 2011 owing to conflict, drought and famine. Another 1.3 million people are internally displaced within the Horn of Africa nation.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.