From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Tue Sep 01 2009 - 17:13:30 EDT
Overcrowded and desperate camps in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia "barely fit
Sep 1, 2009 - 11:36:00 AM
International response shamefully inadequate, says Oxfam
A total failure of the international community to deal effectively with the
Somalia crisis and help end the war is resulting in a spiral of human
suffering and exodus to neighbouring countries, warns international agency
Oxfam. Hundreds of thousands of Somalis who have fled the violence are now
trapped in horrifically overcrowded or poorly managed camps in Kenya,
Ethiopia and Somalia itself.
Oxfam says poor sanitation and little access to basic services such as water
and medicine due to an ineffective response are creating a public health
emergency in camps, which needs to be urgently addressed.
"Somalis flee one of the world's most brutal conflicts and a desperate
drought, only to end up in unimaginable conditions in camps that are barely
fit for humans. Hundreds of thousands of children are affected, and the
world is abandoning the next generation of Somalis when they most need our
help. Why does it seem like you matter less in this world if you are from
Somalia?" said Robbert Van den Berg Oxfam International's spokesman for the
Horn of Africa.
Somalia has recently seen a major increase in conflict, and the country is
suffering its worst drought in a decade. The failure of the international
community to address adequately these overcrowded and unsanitary camps is
shameful given the level of need and human suffering,
In Northern Kenya, each and every month, around 8,000 Somali refugees pour
into Dadaab camp. Now home to 280,000 people, the camp was originally built
to only house a third of that amount. The severe overcrowding means many
families do not have regular access to latrines or clean water, and in some
of the worst parts of the camp over 20 families share one single latrine.
"The Kenyan government has repeatedly promised to provide more land to ease
the overcrowding but has so far failed to do so, despite the urgent and
critical needs. More pressure from the international community is needed to
make it happen", Van den Berg continued.
In Ethiopia's Bokolmayo camp, almost 10,000 people are already in the camp
and nearly 1,000 people a month continue to arrive. Yet the current
infrastructure and services are insufficient to cope with more arrivals, and
there is still an important funding gap for the operation. The UN refugee
agency's response to the impending crisis has been weak and inefficient.
Oxfam called on the agency to exercise much greater leadership in ensuring
Somalis get adequate assistance by supporting host countries to respond
effectively to the humanitarian crisis.
In Somalia many of those fleeing Mogadishu have looked for refuge in the
nearby Afgooye area, which with up to at least 485,000 people sheltering on
a 15km strip of land is now said to be the world's densest concentration of
displaced people. The high insecurity makes it extremely difficult for
international agencies to deliver enough aid to meet people's needs. Somalis
themselves are now on the frontline of delivering aid through their local
organisations, yet they lack funds to carry out their life-saving work and
need much more support from donors.
"In all three locations - Afgooye, Dadaab and Bokolmayo - the services being
provided to vulnerable and desperate people are far below international
standards. While NGOs need to scale up their response, donors cannot shy
away from providing funding for this emergency. This is a human tragedy of
unthinkable proportions where countless people have now been deprived of a
home and a sense of normality for months and months," said Van den Berg.
"Ultimately, the root cause of the problems in all of these camps is the
ongoing conflict, lawlessness and humanitarian disaster inside Somalia. Our
governments must put Somalia top of their list and do more than simply
keeping the country on life-support. What we need is a different approach
and sustained senior level commitment to end this outrageous human suffering
that has been going on for over 15 years," he said.
Oxfam's humanitarian work in the region
Afgooye: Oxfam and its partners are providing water to at least 200,000
people. In the aftermath of the new surge of violence, Oxfam and its
partners are also providing shelter and mosquito nets to families who have
fled there. In addition, working with a local partner, Oxfam has just
launched a community therapeutic Care program (CTC) to treat 3000 severely
malnourished children and over 13,000 moderately malnourished children.
Bokolmayo: Oxfam is providing water and sanitation to at least 9,000 people
in the camp, and preparing to assist further new arrivals if more funding
can be confirmed.
Dadaab: Oxfam has carried out health assessments in the camp and provided
technical support to agencies working there. Oxfam is calling for the Kenyan
government to provide more land, and has committed to scaling up health and
sanitation work if this is done.
Note: There are now 1.4 million displaced people in Somalia and more than
half a million refugees in countries around the region, including Ethiopia,
Kenya, Yemen, Uganda, Eritrea, Tanzania and Djibouti.
For more information, contact:
Andrea Pattison +44 7970 103 083 (
<mailto:Andrea.Pattison@oxfamnovib.or.ke> Andrea.Pattison@oxfamnovib.or.ke )
Ana Damasio: +34 618878113 ( <mailto:adamasio@IntermonOxfam.org>
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