UNHCR alarmed over recent security incidents at Dadaab

Press Releases, 21 December 2011

GENEVA, December 21 UNHCR is alarmed by a string of recent security incidents targeting the Dadaab refugee complex in northern Kenya. Dadaab is the world's largest refugee settlement and shelters more than 460,000 people.

An explosion on Monday at the Hagadera camp killed one person and seriously injured two police officers. Another improvised explosive device went off on Tuesday near the market at Ifo camp. Although there were no casualties a police vehicle was damaged.

In total there have been four such incidents at Dadaab since October when three aid workers were kidnapped. As a result three Kenyan police officers have been killed and four others wounded. There have also been threats against humanitarian agencies working in Dadaab. UNHCR condemns these attacks and calls for respect for peace and the civilian nature of refugee camps.

"We are deeply concerned for the well-being and safety of Somali refugees in Dadaab, most of whom are women, children and elderly," said António Guterres, the UN's High Commissioner for refugees. "For the sake of refugees and those who are there to help them, it is of paramount importance to preserve the peaceful and civilian character of the camps."

A deadly mix of conflict, persecution, drought, and famine has seen 295,000 people fleeing Somalia in 2011. More than half have found shelter at the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya. Others fled to Ethiopia, Yemen and Djibouti.

In Dadaab, development of new sites, registration, deliveries of emergency assistance and services continued uninterrupted throughout the year. However, since October, growing insecurity has crippled the ability of aid agencies to deliver all but life-saving assistance mainly food, water and health services. UNHCR and its partners are exploring options to allow full operations to resume.

The situation in Dadaab has in recent months been additionally complicated by an outbreak of cholera, believed to have started among new arrivals who acquired it in Somalia or en route to Dadaab. Although new cases are now on a downwards trend, we have nonetheless seen 897 cases since August resulting in three deaths. Worsening security, rains and flooding have also affected the trucking of water to parts of the camps.

Somalia remains one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. More than 950,000 Somalis live as refugees in neighboring countries while another 1.46 million are internally displaced.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

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  • Adrian Edwards on mobile +41 79 557 9120
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UNHCR country pages

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

New Arrivals in Yemen

During one six-day period at the end of March, more than 1,100 Somalis and Ethiopians arrived on the shores of Yemen after crossing the Gulf of Aden on smuggler's boats from Bosaso, Somalia. At least 28 people died during these recent voyages – from asphyxiation, beating or drowning – and many were badly injured by the smugglers. Others suffered skin problems as a result of prolonged contact with sea water, human waste, diesel oil and other chemicals.

During a recent visit to Yemen, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Erika Feller pledged to further raise the profile of the situation, to appeal for additional funding and international action to help Yemen, and to develop projects that will improve the living conditions and self sufficiency of the refugees in Yemen.

Since January 2006, Yemen has received nearly 30,000 people from Somalia, Ethiopia and other places, while more than 500 people have died during the sea crossing and at least 300 remain missing. UNHCR provides assistance, care and housing to more than 100,000 refugees already in Yemen.

New Arrivals in Yemen

The Gulf of Aden: Sharp Rise in Crossings and Deaths

The number of people arriving on the coast of Yemen after being smuggled across the treacherous Gulf of Aden from the Horn of Africa has more than doubled this year. So far this year, more than 18,000 people have arrived in Yemen across the Gulf of Aden, and nearly 400 have died attempting the journey.

This surge in arrivals is largely due to the continuing conflict in Somalia and the use of new smuggling routes from Somalia to Yemen and across the Red Sea from Djibouti. Many of the new arrivals also tell of crop losses due to drought, which forced them to leave home. This photo set focuses on those people leaving from Djibouti.

UNHCR has been calling for increased action to save lives in the Gulf of Aden and other waters. We have stepped up our work in Yemen under a US$17 million operation that includes extra staff, provision of additional shelter and assistance, and protection for refugees and internally displaced people.

Posted on 20 May 2008

The Gulf of Aden: Sharp Rise in Crossings and Deaths

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.
Somalia: UN High Commissioner For Refugees In MogadishuPlay video

Somalia: UN High Commissioner For Refugees In Mogadishu

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres visits Mogadishu, expresses solidarity with Somali people on eve of Ramadan.
Somalia: Solutions For Somali RefugeesPlay video

Somalia: Solutions For Somali Refugees

In Kenya, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres discusses solutions for Somali refugees.