20,000 Somali refugees arrive in Kenya

New arrivals at the Dadaab camp in Kenya

20,000 Somali refugees arrive in Kenya

What has been described as the world's largest refugee camp, Dadaab, just got larger having received 20,000 Somali refugees in the past two weeks.

The new arrivals are mostly Somali farmers and animal herders from Lower Juba and the city of Dhobley.

Violence is not the only reason these people are leaving the country.

Somalia is currently suffering from the worst drought it has seen in 36 years.

Jocelyne Sambira has more.

Somali farmers and herders are arriving in huge numbers in Kenya's, Dadaab.

20,000 have crossed into Dadaab in the past two weeks, more than double the average monthly arrivals.

Many of them are destitute, having lost their livelihoods to the worst drought to have hit Somalia in decades.

Melissa Fleming of the UN's Refugee Agency says many of the refugees coming in suffer from malnutrition.

"It is not only that number that is shocking. It is the conditions… the state that people are in when they arrive. As you may know, there is a horrible drought in Somalia as if these people weren't suffering enough from the violence. And this is causing a horrible phenomenon of malnutrition. So, when these people arrive, they walk for days exhausted and they haven't eaten or had anything to drink."

The refugee population in Dadaab has peaked at 360,000.

Dadaab is already the world's largest refugee camp, and now it's heavily congested.

Melissa Fleming again:

"If you compare it to some European cities just to get the picture, it's about the same size as Nice, or Florence or Bilbao. Unfortunately since 2008, we have not been able to provide plots for newly arriving refugees to live on because of lack of space. So, many of them are settling outside the camp boundaries."

Some of the refugees in Dadaab have been there for 20 years. They live in huts, not tents, and the area now looks more like a city than a camp.

But because of overcrowding, 50,000 Somali refugees are living outside the structure of the camp.

The majority of them are women and children, says Fleming.

"We have yet to receive the authorization for this extension of the camp. We'd like for all new arrivals to be able to house them in a similar way so that it is organized, it's dignified, it's clean, there's proper sanitation, the children can go to school, they can receive health services, this is very difficult to achieve outside the camp structure. That doesn't mean they are not receiving any assistance, it cannot be done in such a systematic and proper way as it is in a camp structure."

Most Somalis are still fleeing the conflict and insecurity, but the continued drought and lack of food is forcing more refugees into Kenya and countries like Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 2’09″

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