From one desert to another
July 27, 2011
Medical humanitarian organisation, Medécins Sans Frontières (MSF) is deeply concerned by the relocation of Somali refugees in Dadaab to Ifo 3 extension camp. The relocation, which began yesterday under the auspices of the UNHCR, has been carried out with little transparency or consultation with other agencies on the ground and the refugee community. Some 200 families per day are being relocated to Ifo 3, a camp with little existing basic services, including water and sanitation. It is expected that the camp will hold a total of 60,000 refugees, which is 20,000 more people than it was originally designed for. NGOs were alerted only last Friday of the relocation exercise and although water is currently being trucked to the new camp and latrines are rapidly being dug, the camp does not meet the minimum humanitarian standards.
Further this camp has no hospital structure, which will force MSF to refer patients in need of hospitalization or in-patient therapeutic feeding to either Dagahaley camp or Ifo camp hospitals, both of which are already operating beyond full capacity.
Meanwhile, just a few kilometers away lies Ifo 2, a camp which was due to open last November, and is already equipped with boreholes, latrines and showers, electricity, some shelter and schools. MSF calls on the Government of Kenya and the UNHCR to ensure the immediate relocation of refugees to Ifo 2 as announced by the government 12 days ago.
Refugees fleeing drought and conflict in Somalia continue to arrive in large numbers in Dadaab, and last week alone, 5,117 new refugees arrived in Dadaab, bringing the total of new arrivals since January to 81,463 and the total number of refugees in Dadaab to 387,893. Whilst many of these refugees remain on the outskirts of the camps they are still not receiving adequate assistance, with delays in registration and access to food, water and shelter is tipping them over the edge.
MSF is currently treating over 2400 children in its ambulatory therapeutic programme in Dadaab and 138 in its in-patient therapeutic feeding centre. 5047 children with moderate acute malnutrition are enrolled in the supplementary feeding programme.
MSF has been working in Dagahaley camp since March 2009, providing medical care including surgery and maternal health services, in a 170-bed hospital, and offers vaccinations, antenatal care and mental healthcare in six health posts in the camps and outskirts. In addition, since earlier this year MSF is working on the outskirts of Ifo camp, providing primary health care and nutritional assistance to the new arrivals.