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No Relief In Sight For Somali Refugees In Kenya
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No Relief In Sight For Somali Refugees In Kenya

Africa

No Relief In Sight For Somali Refugees In Kenya

No Relief In Sight For Somali Refugees In Kenya
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Women and children at the Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya line up Aug. 24 to  receive iftar — a meal of rice, meat and vegetables to break  the Ramadan fast. Somalis are fleeing across the border to Kenya to escape  extreme poverty associated with the country's severe drought, famine and an  Islamist insurgency. i

Women and children at the Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya line up Aug. 24 to receive iftar — a meal of rice, meat and vegetables to break the Ramadan fast. Somalis are fleeing across the border to Kenya to escape extreme poverty associated with the country's severe drought, famine and an Islamist insurgency. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Ofeibea Quist-Arcton/NPR
Women and children at the Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya line up Aug. 24 to  receive iftar — a meal of rice, meat and vegetables to break  the Ramadan fast. Somalis are fleeing across the border to Kenya to escape  extreme poverty associated with the country's severe drought, famine and an  Islamist insurgency.

Women and children at the Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya line up Aug. 24 to receive iftar — a meal of rice, meat and vegetables to break the Ramadan fast. Somalis are fleeing across the border to Kenya to escape extreme poverty associated with the country's severe drought, famine and an Islamist insurgency.

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton/NPR

Even in the relentless heat and dust of the sprawling Dadaab refugee settlement in northern Kenya, camp residents observe the dawn-to-dusk Ramadan fast.

Hawa Abdi is among them. She is from southern Somalia, a part of the country where famine has been declared by the United Nations. She says she has been a refugee at Dadaab for the past six months and is receiving assistance — but still would like more food and other aid.

Famine In Somalia

A map showing the U.N.-declared famine area in southern Somalia

In preparation for the iftar, the meal that breaks the daily fast, aid workers hand out rice, meat and vegetables several hours before sundown.

New Pledge Drive

The difficult conditions remain, and the African Union is to hold a pledging conference Thursday to raise money and awareness of the drought and famine in the Horn of Africa, especially in war-weakened Somalia.

The U.N. is seeking an additional $1.5 billion for the Horn of Africa. Meanwhile, African governments have been sharply criticized for not doing enough to help people suffering in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti.

More than 12 million people in the region need humanitarian assistance, nearly 3.5 million in Somalia alone. Refugees from that country continue to stream across the border into Kenya, seeking security, shelter and food.

Abubakar Mohamed Mahmood is a Somali-Kenyan who has worked for 20 years in the Dadaab settlement — which now houses more than 400,000 refugees.

"I can say primarily what is driving them from Somalia today is famine and drought," says Mohamed, who works for Medecins San Frontieres, also known by its English name, Doctors Without Borders. "People are leaving Somalia because the only way to save life is to present yourself where assistance can be offered."

Nur Bule Ali and his  family, who fled from Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, have lived at Dadaab refugee  settlement for the past eight months and moved to this tent in the Ifo-2 camp this past week. i

Nur Bule Ali and his family, who fled from Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, have lived at Dadaab refugee settlement for the past eight months and moved to this tent in the Ifo-2 camp this past week. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Ofeibea Quist-Arcton/NPR
Nur Bule Ali and his  family, who fled from Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, have lived at Dadaab refugee  settlement for the past eight months and moved to this tent in the Ifo-2 camp this past week.

Nur Bule Ali and his family, who fled from Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, have lived at Dadaab refugee settlement for the past eight months and moved to this tent in the Ifo-2 camp this past week.

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton/NPR

Refugees Still Coming

Mohamed says more and more Somalis are fleeing into Kenya.

"These people have endured insecurity for the last 20 years in Somalia," he says. "They had a coping mechanism of how to live with insecurity. But now, after the rains have failed for the last three years — the pastoralists have lost their animals, the farmers cannot farm any longer, and now they have been rendered extremely poor."

As well, the country's weak government is battling an Islamist insurgency.

The new arrivals from Somalia have been housed in what's become a tent city on the perimeter of the camp. Nur Bule Ali, and his wife, two sons and daughter, are among the refugees there.

"I came from Mogadishu and stayed almost eight months here at the refugee camps. I fled because of insecurity and war, I ran away at night, and my family was all helter-skelter. Life is better here in Kenya," he says, "because of shelter, peace and guaranteed security."

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