Home > Drought and Starvation, UNICEF > Dadaab:UNICEF intensifies relief efforts at Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp

Dadaab:UNICEF intensifies relief efforts at Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Laaska News  August 7,2011
By Ben Ochieng and Wang Yanan
DADAAB, Kenya, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) — With an influx of new arrivals straining resources in the camps and host communities, the UN children’s fund is delivering life-saving support in health and nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene and child protection.

UNICEF says eighty percent of Somali refugees are women and children who arrive in Dadaab at an average rate of 1,300 per day, having survived the long trek from Somalia. But the total population of the three camps near Dadaab is now more than 400,000. The population in the three camps in Dadaab is equivalent to being the third largest city in Kenya. According to UNICEF’s Emergency Communication Specialist, Chris Tidey, the displacement of children due to the drought in Somalia has raised protection concerns as they search for a better situation and are likely to be separated from their families.

“They are therefore more vulnerable and exposed to child labor, child abuse, prostitution and drug abuses,” Tidey told Xinhua at the refugee camp.

These children have limited access to basic facilities. The situation has worsened in the last two months and we are upscaling our efforts by procuring more vaccines, feeding programs for malnourished children and getting them into school.”

UNICEF has increased supplies of ready-to-use therapeutic food to hospitals and nutrition stabilization centers in the Dadaab camps and surrounding host communities for the treatment of malnutrition in children under five.

The UN agency is also working with local health authorities to establish a therapeutic feeding center in the border community of Liboi to ensure that families crossing into Kenya have access to life-saving health and nutrition services as quickly as possible.

UNICEF Kenya Representative Olivia Yambi says the agency has dispatched medicines to the health center in Liboi, including health kits sufficient to support about 10,000 people, for use by the host community and for the treatment of refugees crossing into Kenya.

“Many Somali families who cross into Kenya at Liboi do not realize they must walk another 100 km before arriving at the refugee camps in Dadaab,” says Olivia Yambi, UNICEF Kenya Representative.

“The health of some malnourished children crossing at Liboi is so precarious that they simply cannot wait until they get to Dadaab for treatment.

According to Yambi, the positioning of health and nutritional supplies close to the border will save children’s lives that might otherwise have been lost on the long journey to Dadaab.”

But Tidey says a large percentage of the children have never attended school and it was their first time to come in contact with formal education where UNICEF has established several schools in the camp.

“UN assistance is not sufficient. It can never be enough, though all humanitarian organizations are doing their best on the ground, where they are responding with their own resources.”

Tidey says the situation is not ideal but believes being in the camp is the beginning of new hope for the refugees.

Thirteen-year old Abubakr Rage Ali stopped learning in 2009 to flee the war in Somalia where he left his family in Halgen.

He has since enrolled in Standard Five and is continuing with his education. “I like education and I am happy that I am able to continue with my schooling courtesy of UNICEF,” he says.

Ahmed Ibrahim has not realized his ambition of going back to school but is optimistic of enrolling soon. Like Ali, he also left his parents and siblings in Somalia and lives with his aunty in the camp.

“My journey to Dadaab as uneventful,” says Ibrahim who is one of the lucky few without horrid tales to tell of their trek from the war-torn and drought-raved Somalia. He has stayed at the camp for one year.

Somalia is the epicenter of this disaster because an extremely fragile situation, characterized by conflict and insecurity, has escalated at the same time as climatic and price changes were hitting hard on the population.

Children who are severely malnourished are at nine times more likely to die than healthy children and even children who are moderately malnourished have a significantly higher risk of dying.

Malnutrition robs the child of vital micronutrients that are essential to their growth and development, and makes children more susceptible to disease.

Where it does not kill, malnutrition can leave permanent scars; it can leave a child physically and intellectually damaged and suffering from the consequences of a weakened immune system.

Xinhua

Laaska News.
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