– Staff from UNHCR and partner organizations were on Friday completing preparations for moving Somali refugee families from this weekend into a new area of the Dadaab refugee camp complex in northern Kenya.
Tents and infrastructure were being put in place at the Kambioos camp as UNHCR continued to move thousands of people into the new Ifo Extension site, which has received more than 15,000 refugees since July 25. Kambioos has a planned capacity of 90,000 people.
The extra space is needed to cope with the continuing influx of refugees fleeing devastating drought, famine and conflict in Somalia. More than 70,000 arrived at Dadaab during June and July, pushing the overall population there to 440,000. Some 1,500 people continue to arrive every day, and many have been settling spontaneously on the outskirts of Ifo, Dagahaley and Hagadera – the three core camps that make up the Dadaab complex.
“As well as needing food and water, these new arrivals urgently need proper shelter, medical help and other basic services,” UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said in Geneva on Friday, while noting that emergency expansion work was also being carried out at an area of Ifo camp known as Ifo 2.
“Tents are already being pitched and we expect the first families to move in shortly, with priority given to the extremely vulnerable,” he said, adding that while UNHCR had moved thousands of tents to Dadaab, “We urgently need 45,000 more tents.” The refugee agency is calling on donors to help.
In south-east Ethiopia, meanwhile, the immunization of some 18,000 Somali refugee children in the Kobe camp in the Dollo Ado area kicked off on Thursday in response to the recent outbreak of suspected measles.
The four-day immunization exercise by Médecins Sans Frontières-Spain, with support from the Ethiopian government, is expected to be completed on Sunday and will be extended to the other three camps in the Dollo Ado area.
Outreach workers are carrying out an intensive sensitization campaign to encourage refugee families to take their children to the health clinic for vaccination. The vaccines have been provided by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) through the Ministry of Health. In addition, technical and other support is being provided by the World Health Organization (WHO).
A door-to-door screening exercise has enabled the detection of new suspected measles cases – 93 cases have been identified in the Dollo Ado camps, which host nearly 120,000 refugees. Three measles-related deaths have been recorded officially. Health workers continue to emphasize the need to address the other causes of mortality in the camps, mainly malnutrition, diarrhoea and respiratory tract infections.
Also in Dollo Ado, UNHCR, in partnership with the International Organization for Migration and Médecins Sans Frontières-Holland, is continuing with the relocation of refugees from a transit centre to the new Hilaweyn camp.
Since the start of the exercise last weekend, more than 5,000 refugees have been moved to the new camp. The exercise to move some 15,000 people to Hilaweyn is expected to be completed within a fortnight.
The daily arrival rate into the Dollo Ado area has, meanwhile, fallen significantly to some 200-300 refugees per day from up to 2,000 a day in early July. In addition to the nearly 120,000 Somali refugees hosted in the four camps and the transit centre, there are more than 40,000 refugees in camps in the Jijiga area in eastern Ethiopia.
In a separate development, the second of three planned UNHCR humanitarian flights landed at Mogadishu airport on Thursday morning. The plane was carrying a 32-ton consignment of shelter and other aid items for distribution in and around the Somali capital.
An estimated 100,000 Somalis, driven by drought, famine and conflict, have fled to Mogadishu over the past two months in search of food, water, shelter, protection and other help. They join more than 370,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) in Mogadishu who were forced to leave their homes before the current wave of displacement. UNHCR is making preparations to deliver assistance to up to 180,000 people in Mogadishu and south central Somalia by the month’s end.