UNHCR relocates first Somali refugees from Dadaab to Kakuma

Briefing Notes, 18 August 2009

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 18 August 2009, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

We have started relocating the first of some 12,900 Somali refugees from the overcrowded Dadaab refugee complex in north-eastern Kenya to Kakuma camp in the north-west. The first 311 refugees arrived in Kakuma on this weekend (15 August) after a three day journey by road. Another convoy of 13 buses with 520 refugees left Dadaab for Kakuma yesterday. The movement of the refugees is being handled by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The relocation of the refugees from Dadaab to Kakuma is part of a multi- phase plan to alleviate the chronic overcrowding in the eighteen year old Dadaab refugee camps, which currently host more than three times the population they were initially designed to accommodate. The move is scheduled to be completed by the end of October, before the start of the rainy season. In addition, in order to improve the living conditions of the refugees in Dadaab, UNHCR is working on upgrading of the aging water and sanitation systems, increasing the health services and providing adequate shelter and nutrition as well as providing more funding to support the local communities neighbouring the camps.

Upon arrival in Kakuma, the refugees were provided with blankets, sleeping mats and kitchen sets, before being transferred to their new accommodation.

The escalating violence and humanitarian crisis in Somalia has driven thousands of Somalis out of their homes, many of whom have fled to the neighbouring and nearby countries. Since January, over 43,000 Somali refugees have sought refuge in the Dadaab camps, bringing the total number of refugees in the three camps to a record 289,500.

At the same time, we are seriously concerned about the deteriorating security situation in Somalia. The continued abductions, killing and intimidation of aid workers and the pillaging of humanitarian facilities and supplies, is making it increasingly difficult to reach and access the needy population. The situation is having an adverse impact on delivery of aid to internally displaced people (IDPs) who are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

UNHCR provides protection and assistance to more than 510,000 refugees in the nearby countries of Kenya, Yemen, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Uganda. There are some 1.3 million IDPs in Somalia, and an estimated 3.2 million people who are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.




UNHCR country pages

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

Crossing the Gulf of Aden

Every year thousands of people in the Horn of Africa - mainly Somalis and Ethiopians - leave their homes out of fear or pure despair, in search of safety or a better life. They make their way over dangerous Somali roads to Bossaso in the northern semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

In this lawless area, smuggler networks have free reign and innocent and desperate civilians pay up to US$150 to make the perilous trip across the Gulf of Aden.

Some stay weeks on end in safe houses or temporary homes in Bossaso before they can depart. A sudden call and a departure in the middle of the night, crammed in small unstable boats. At sea, anything can happen to them - they are at the whim of smugglers. Some people get beaten, stabbed, killed and thrown overboard. Others drown before arriving on the beaches of Yemen, which have become the burial ground for hundreds who many of those who died en route.

Crossing the Gulf of Aden


In February 2005, one of the last groups of Somalilander refugees to leave Aisha refugee camp in eastern Ethiopia boarded a UNHCR convoy and headed home to Harrirad in North-west Somalia - the self-declared independent state of Somaliland. Two years ago Harrirad was a tiny, sleepy village with only 67 buildings, but today more than 1,000 people live there, nearly all of whom are former refugees rebuilding their lives.

As the refugees flow back into Somalia, UNHCR plans to close Aisha camp by the middle of the year. The few remaining refugees in Aisha - who come from southern Somalia - will most likely be moved to the last eastern camp, Kebribeyah, already home to more than 10,000 refugees who cannot go home to Mogadishu and other areas in southern Somalia because of continuing lawlessness there. So far refugees have been returning to only two areas of the country - Somaliland and Puntland in the north-east.


Flood Airdrop in Kenya

Over the weekend, UNHCR with the help of the US military began an emergency airdrop of some 200 tonnes of relief supplies for thousands of refugees badly hit by massive flooding in the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya.

In a spectacular sight, 16 tonnes of plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, tents and blankets, were dropped on each run from the C-130 transport plane onto a site cleared of animals and people. Refugees loaded the supplies on trucks to take to the camps.

Dadaab, a three-camp complex hosting some 160,000 refugees, mainly from Somalia, has been cut off from the world for a month by heavy rains that washed away the road connecting the remote camps to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Air transport is the only way to get supplies into the camps.

UNHCR has moved 7,000 refugees from Ifo camp, worst affected by the flooding, to Hagadera camp, some 20 km away. A further 7,000 refugees have been moved to higher ground at a new site, called Ifo 2.

Posted in December 2006

Flood Airdrop in Kenya

2015 World Day against Trafficking in Persons: ICAT Video StatementPlay video

2015 World Day against Trafficking in Persons: ICAT Video Statement

The second annual World Day against Trafficking in Persons is being marked on 30 July 2015. To mark this special day, the Principals of eight of the world's key organizations working to tackle this crime have come together to issue a special statement. Together, these eight heads of organizations are urging more to be done to help the millions of women, men and children who fall victim to one of today's most brutal crimes, and to join forces to improve trafficked persons' access to remedies that respond to their individual needs. This video includes statements from the following members of the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT): ILO, INTERPOL, IOM, OHCHR, UN Women, UNHCR, UNICRI and UNODC.

Kenya: High Commissioner Visits Dadaab Refugee CampPlay video

Kenya: High Commissioner Visits Dadaab Refugee Camp

Last week the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres completed a visit to Kenya and Somalia where he met with the Presidents of the two countries, as well as Somali refugees and returnees.
Kenya: A Lifetime of WaitingPlay video

Kenya: A Lifetime of Waiting

Sarah was born and raised in Hagadera refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. Now 21, she has become a wife and mother without ever setting foot outside the camp.