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Funds running dry in world’s largest refugee camp

Funds running dry in world’s largest refugee camp

July 12, 2012

A year has passed since Somalis fleeing famine and conflict captured the world’s attention and the largest refugee camp in the world is facing a critical funding shortage, a group of seven aid agencies said today. The agencies called on the international community to find long-term solutions, and warned that the $25 million gap in aid could worsen insecurity in the region.

  • Dadaab’s population increased by a third in the past year to over 465,000 people, yet funding has not kept pace. The relief agencies outlined the impact of the funding shortfall in a new briefing paper:
  • 130,000 refugees living in tents will soon be without adequate shelter to face the harsh climate. 30,000 new shelters are needed, yet funding is only available for 4,000.
  • Water supply and sanitation services to an expected 50,000 new refugees by September is in danger, greatly increasing the threat of cholera.
  • In the Hagadera part of the camp, two health units serve the needs of 78,000 people, when the minimum emergency standard is 1 unit per 10,000 people. Funding for community health workers in Hagadera will run out in October.
  • 164,000 children – over 70 percent of those in Dadaab – are currently out of school. Lack of education and employment opportunities increases the potential for disenfranchised youth to be recruited into militia and banditry. Those in school attend classes of over 100 pupils and only one in five teachers has formal training.
  • Women and children face sexual violence while collecting firewood or walking long distances to use poorly-lit latrines, yet funding for protection programs has fallen and there are not enough trained staff to provide psychosocial care. 

“The funding shortfall means people who have fled unimaginable suffering are not getting the care they need. If children are not going to school and if people do not have proper shelter and other services, this has the potential to fuel further militarisation, violence and instability,” said Stephen Vaughan, head of CARE Kenya.  

“Refugee camps are only temporary solutions and the situation is increasingly untenable. A change in approach is urgently needed. However, right now, the world has an obligation not to turn its back on Dadaab and the needs of the people there,” said Nigel Tricks, head of Oxfam in Kenya

The agencies called for a political solution in Somalia, so that refugees feel able to return home. The agencies also called for creating employment to remove refugees’ dependence on short-term aid. With insecurity in the camp restricting access for aid agencies, more investment is needed to build the skills and capacity of refugee communities and local organizations to deliver services. 

“We are committed to providing quality health care here, but because of the funding shortfall, it is likely that some basic services will be cut, leaving refugees more vulnerable,” said Kellie Leeson, Deputy Regional Director of the International Rescue Committee

Canada’s contribution to humanitarian relief in Kenya totalled $50 million in 2011-12.

The agencies signing the statement are: CARE, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Danish Refugee Council (DRC), International Rescue Committee (IRC), Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Oxfam and Terre des Hommes (TdH).

The $25 million figure is calculated from the combined current funding shortages for the seven signatory agencies. This does not cover other work in Dadaab. Costs of operating in Dadaab fluctuate, and further deterioration in security or influx of new arrivals could increase costs further.  

For more information read the briefing note: “The Human Costs of the Funding Shortfalls for the Dadaab Refugee Camps”.

Mark Fried, Oxfam Canada

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