Christmas in Dadaab: Scary and Risky venture!

We in TSM had indicated that we will continue supporting the refugees in Dadaab.  Following the kidnap of aid workers from the camps by Al-shabaab and the subsequent war by Kenya defense forces wedged in  Somalia, many agencies at the camps pulled out from work in the camp waiting for restoration of security.  Only people serving here were essential services staff… but things have increasingly taken a different turn.

The Al-shabaab sympathizers have been on the loose with grenade and land mine attacks at the moment on security forces and may spread.

 

 

 

On the 20th December 2011 we had began preparations for Christmas week celebrations for the refugees  in Ifo. It was to begin with children programes and parties gathering in this Gambelle Community church. All their teachers and parents were pleased to participate TSM facilitated the programes.

It is vital to create normalcy among them at this time of great tension.  We have been bared from gathering in big groups so we split them into several groups gathering in different camps.

While the parties were going on, there was another blast! This time it was a grenade and in Ifo camp where we were gathered. This was targeted at security patrols at the camps only a day before 19th we had a land mine blow up a police truck killing two.   We are obviously not safe here!

This time around it seems as though everyone opted to leave Dadaab for Nairobi or elsewhere but here.  TSM had planned to distribute food to refugees in Ifo in Dadaab the week before Christmas to allow the Christian families some memorable time. You should note that with the blast No one wanted to commit staff here for distribution of food.

WFP who had the responsibility to do this withdrew staff and are now delaying the ration distribution until further notice! What are the refugees to do?

We had to honor our commitment and bring food to over 1000 families we have been responsible for. We wanted our giving to coincide with Christmas. We in this have answered a desperate call for food this is what they will have for the next while.

TSM sent two loads of Lorries with food maize floor, beans, oil and sugar. We were being waited for eagerly. This will go a long way to support lives at the camp!

Thank you very much for your prayers for us and support that has enabled us provide this service.  Blessed season!

Rev Canon Francis Omondi,

TSM International

‘Rich’ pastoralists roam streets after death of animals

 

By ADOW JUBAT

The death of his more than 800 cows valued at Sh20 million left Mr Hajji Ahmed Addullahi Guhad, 55 a devastated man.

At market value of Sh25,000 per cow Guhad could have been a rich man but he refused to sell his ‘wealth’ and invest the proceeds in business.

In just two months, his entire herd was swept by drought as he watched helplessly.

This reduced Guhad to an ordinary man and he lost self esteem and respect. And his names have since changed from Hajji Ahmed to Ahmed ‘Waal’ (Ahmed the mad one).

Ahmed ‘Waal’ is among hundreds of the growing list of former livestock owners now roaming streets of most urban centres in the drought prone North-Eastern region, after fleeing their villages due to biting drought.

Lower North-Eastern Regional Commissioner Hassan Farah said urban streets are now flooded with ‘mad’ persons who lost their livestock to persistent drought.

The pastoralists have established settlements in the urban centres dubbed as ‘Hooyga Iskadeg’ (Somali-the homes of drought IDPs).

“We have a big number of pastoralists families mainly from Mbalambala, Danyere, Banane, Modogashe, Dadadab and Sankuri who are returning only with their walking sticks from Eastern region of the country, part of war-tornSomaliaandEthiopia. These people lost their entire animals which they took to those areas for pasture and water”, Mr Farah told The Standard in an Interview at his office in Garissa.

Challenges

The administrator said more than 600,000 people inGarissaCountyrequire urgent humanitarian assistance to cushion them from hunger.

“The drought is getting worse by the day and it is becoming a great concern for the Government. We are doing everything at our disposal and we urge the international community and well-wishers to step in and help starving families”, he added.

Farah said out of the 600,000 starving population at least 216,000 receive monthly relief hand outs from the Government. The Government has disbursed Sh1.5 million to each of the eleven districts in the region for water projects and will soon commission Sh100 million Modogashe borehole project and Sh4 million borehole projects in Lagdera and Dadaab districts respectively.

Farah said acute water problem has compounded the drought situation and the last dam holding water in Hullugho, Ijara District is expected to dry up this week.

“As we are talking now none of the 118 water pans in the county are holding water, even the Hullugho dam we are speaking of drying this week is virtually not holding water, but wet soil which people and animals are scavenging for water”, he said.

He said so far 30 per cent of the 600,000 cows inGarissaCountyhave been swept by drought and added that an equal percentage of goats and camels have also succumbed.

However, the administrator assured residents that the Government is enhancing relief food allocation during this holy month of Ramadhan to ensure their religious duty is not affected by hunger. Garissa County Kenya Red Cross Society relief co-coordinator Osman Adan said they are facing challenges due to surging numbers of food insecure individuals.

“We are currently targeting 116,850 persons against a starving population of more than 600,000. It is difficult to feed some while leaving out others after they all turned-up at the food distributions centres” he said.

He explained that the food allocation per person includes cereals of 6.9kg, yellow peas 1.2kg and oil 0.4kg which is 50 per cent relief assistance for the most vulnerable persons and families.

Mr Adan regretted that livestock crowd watering points and some that are too weak succumb after a long wait.

He said pastoralists tired of massive death of their animals leave carcasses at water points that are now a health hazard.

Pastoralists have resorted to killing new born calves to save their weak mothers from being sucked to death.

And in Khalalio Division inManderaCountya man who declined to be named for social reasons said he divorced his younger wife due to drought.

“I had to call off my marriage with my youngest wife with two children. My entire 62 goats were killed by drought and with no other source of income I should give her a break because what we receive as relief food ration is hardly enough to sustain my other family of twelve children” he said battling tears.

He adds: “I decided to separate with her because she comes from a stable and had only two sons to take care of compared to the other wife who has 12 children and hails from a very unstable family. If life changes “Inshallah” (God willing) we can re-unite”.

 

Millions Stare Death in the Face Amidst Ravaging Drought

Miriam Gathigah

18 July 2011

Nairobi — While Kenya struggles to cope with the influx of refuges fleeing the drought in Somalia, it is estimated that about 1,300 people arrive daily at the Dadaab refugee camp, the country is facing its own crisis of malnutrition and starvation.

It takes on average nine days in 50-degree Celsius heat for Somali’s fleeing the drought in their country to travel the 80 kilometres of the sandy, expansive desert that separates Dadaab in Northern Kenya from Somalia.

The journey to Dadaab is a treacherous one, made even more perilous as it snakes through territories of lawlessness where armed bandits and even police harass the refugees.

And when those who survive the journey finally reach Dadaab, they soon realise that the camp is far from the haven they hoped it would be.

In Kenya an estimated five million people across the country are facing starvation because of drought, according to Abbas Gullet, the secretary general of the Kenyan Red Cross.

In the northern part of Kenya, the local Turkana community is facing starvation, just like the refugees at Dadaab.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), from a population of about 850,000 people in Turkana, more than 385,000 children and 90,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women are suffering from acute malnutrition. This has increased the number of new admissions of children suffering from malnutrition to a staggering 78 percent.

“This is a very serious situation, across the region (Horn of Africa) more than 10 million people are affected. Of this, two million children are severely affected with half a million of them suffering from severe acute malnutrition and (many are) on the brink of death,” UNICEF executive director, Anthony Lake, says.

This comes less than two months after Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki declared the drought a national disaster as the lives of people in Moyale, Turkana, Wajir, Marsabit and Mandera hang in the balance because of a lack of food and water.

“On my visit to Turkana, one of the drought-stricken regions, I saw a mother putting powdered palm nuts in her mouth in order to moisten the grains before putting the mixture in the mouth of her baby because of the lack of water … this is a crisis,” says Lake. He was speaking at a press briefing in Nairobi on Jul. 17.

The ministry of special programs and the Kenya Red Cross have been providing food aid to those most affected by the drought, but with the arrival of a high number of refugees, locals say that the aid focus has shifted to Dadaab.

Those asylum seekers who succumb to the heat and lack of water along the way to Dadaab are buried not far from the camp, in a makeshift graveyard. The graveyard serves as a reminder to the living that unless circumstances improve, death may also soon be their fate.

“Dadaab in Northern Kenya was built for a maximum of 90,000 refugees, the numbers are now at 423,000 and counting, with 50,000 more building makeshift camps around the refugee complex,” explains a source at the Kenya Red Cross. The camp was officially declared full in 2008.

And that is not all.

“More refugees are on their way,” says Doctors Without Borders nurse, Nenna Arnold. “We are already at bursting point, but the figures keep growing. This situation is a humanitarian emergency.”

As more and more people crowd the three camps that make up the Dadaab complex, the availability of essential services like water, food and basic sanitation is becoming inadequate to serve the numbers living there.

While speaking after a tour across drought-stricken Kenya, Andrew Mitchell, British secretary of state for international development, says that millions of people are staring death in the face as the Horn of Africa faces the most severe humanitarian crisis in the world.

UNICEF confirms that one in every three Somalis is living through a humanitarian catastrophe. Somalis have endured a long drawn socio-political crisis for about 20 years, which has led to the escalation of poverty, food insecurity and instability.

The situation in Somalia has spilled over to the neighbouring countries, particularly Kenya and Ethiopia, which are also dealing with millions of people who require urgent food and water relief.

This has led to a feeling of animosity from the host communities who feel that the refugees are competing with them for scarce food aid.

“The host community is now expressing frustration for what they see as negligence as the government and aid agencies rush to the rescue of the refugees,” explains Lake.

“The locals are wondering why there is a lot of attention to help refugees while our people in Turkana, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit and other regions are suffering the same fate,” wonders Mohammed Abdi, a cattle trader who is counting his losses as more of his livestock succumb to the drought.

“We understand that the refugees need help. But we in Northern Kenya are not fairing any better. We are feeling very neglected, who feeds visitors in their home while his own children are starving?” asks Abdi.