UNHCR prepares for possible flooding in Dadaab refugee camps; appeals for US$2.8 million

News Stories, 6 November 2009

© UNHCR/B.Bannon
Preparing for the Worst: Refugees moving to higher ground at Dadaab when it was hit by floods in 2006.

GENEVA, November 6 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Friday called on donor countries for an extra US$2.8 million to help more than 300,000 refugees in two locations in northern Kenya threatened by flooding.

"We have already begun to make engineering improvements in the two camps Kakuma in north-western Kenya and Dadaab in the east on the Somalia border," UNHCR spokesman, Andrej Mahecic, told journalists in Geneva, adding that much of the money would be used to pre-position essential items such as fuel, blankets and plastic sheets, and to respond to possible outbreaks of disease.

Mahecic said UNHCR feared that the looming El Niño phenomenon a change in the atmosphere and ocean of the tropical Pacific region that produces floods, droughts and other weather disturbances in many regions of the world may now threaten the 338,000 mostly Somali refugees in the two camps, which in any case usually are flooded for three months every year.

When heavy rains started three weeks ago, UNHCR began digging trenches and placing sandbags around hospitals, boreholes and other strategic locations in both camps. The agency has also been repairing culverts on seasonal riverbeds that connect different parts of the three camps at Dadaab. Without these measures, many sections of these camps would have been inundated.

"We are also preparing to locate, to higher ground within the camps, refugees who might be worst affected by the floods, particularly the chronically ill, disabled people, the elderly and children and teenagers on their own," Mahecic noted.

In order to protect refugees in Kakuma, the camp harder hit by floods in the past, UNHCR has diverted two seasonal rivers, the Tarach and Lodoket, that have often flooded lower grounds.

The worst flooding in Kakuma was recorded in May 2003 when some 16,800 refugees saw their homes destroyed. A number of latrines overflowed and collapsed, leading to the spread of water-borne diseases, including cholera and dysentery. The overcrowded Dadaab complex, home to more refugees than any other site in the world, last experienced severe flooding in 2006.

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Donors

Governments, organisations and individuals who fund UNHCR's activities.

Dadaab: World's Biggest Refugee Camp Turns 20

Last year, 2011, was the 20th anniversary of the world's biggest refugee camp - Dadaab in north-eastern Kenya. The anniversary is a reminder of the suffering of the Somali people, who have been seeking safety and shelter for two decades. UNHCR, which manages the Dadaab complex, set up the first camps there between October 1991 and June 1992. This followed a civil war in Somalia that in 1991 had culminated in the fall of Mogadishu and overthrow of the Siad Barre regime.

The original intention was for the three Dadaab camps to host up to 90,000 people. However today they host more than 463,000 people, including some 10,000 third-generation refugees born in Dadaab to parents who were also born there.

Last year's famine in Somalia saw more than 150,000 new arrivals, a third of the camp's current population. Overcrowding and stretched resources as well as security concerns have all had an impact on the camp, but UNHCR continues to provide life-saving assistance.

Dadaab: World's Biggest Refugee Camp Turns 20

Dire Times in Dadaab

Angelina Jolie's visit to Dadaab in north-east Kenya puts a spotlight on the overcrowded camp complex, home to tens of thousands of refugees.

When UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie visited Dadaab in north-east Kenya on September 12, 2009, she saw first-hand some of the tough conditions that tens of thousands of refugees must live in. The overcrowded three-camp complex is home to more than 285,000 mainly Somali refugees, making it the largest refugee settlement in the world. The camps were established in the early 1990s and were intended for a maximum of 90,000 people. Up to 7,000 people are now arriving every month to escape continuing conflict in Somalia. Jolie talked to residents about their daily life and their exile. These images show her meetings with the refugees of Dadaab and show some of the conditions they live in. Aside from overcrowding, they face water shortages, crammed classrooms, health problems, the coming rainy season and a range of other difficulties. UNHCR hopes new land will be allocated soon for the new arrivals.

Dire Times in Dadaab

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

Joint Appeal: Help Sought as Food Shortages Threaten Refugees in AfricaPlay video

Joint Appeal: Help Sought as Food Shortages Threaten Refugees in Africa

The World Food Programme and the United Nations refugee agency seek urgent funding to help 800,000 refugees in Africa affected by food shortages. Cuts in food rations threaten to worsen already unacceptable levels of acute malnutrition, stunting and anaemia, particularly in children.
Iraq: Innovation & Refugee ShelterPlay video

Iraq: Innovation & Refugee Shelter

The IKEA Foundation is funding the development of durable and easy-to-assemble shelters for refugees. Syrians in northern Iraq have been among the first to try them out.
Syrian Refugees:  Taking Taekwondo Classes In JordanPlay video

Syrian Refugees: Taking Taekwondo Classes In Jordan

Life in a refugee camp is tough. But with funding help from South Korea, young Syrian refugees in Jordan's Za'atri camp are getting fit and boosting their morale by taking Taekwondo classes.