Dadaab Briefing Paper: Back to Square One
In the Dadaab camps of northerastern Kenya, which collectively form the largest refugee camp in the world, life is becoming more difficult every day and hundreds of thousands of refugees are facing a humanitarian emergency. Their health is at risk of deteriorating rapidly but humanitarian aid agencies are struggling to provide meaningful assistance on an ongoing basis.
The relocation of families to the newly opened camps of Ifo 2 West and Ifo 2 East continues, but work to ensure sufficient services has been slow to restart. Today, a limited number of people remain on the outskirts of the camps in so-called “self-settled areas,” where living conditions are still extremely poor. Such conditions have profound consequences for the health of these refugees, as confirmed in a detailed survey conducted by MSF’s epidemiological branch, Epicentre, in September 2011. The health situation in Dadaab is alarming, with recent outbreaks of measles, acute watery diarrhea, and cholera.
MSF continues to run its hospital and four health posts in Dadaab’s Dagahaley camp. At the height of the emergency, from October 2011 to January 2012, the 300-bed hospital in Dagahaley was operating beyond its capacity, reaching a peak of more than 350 patients in the first week of January. Today the situation has improved and medical activities have been restored in Ifo 2 [Somali refugee camp]. However, the number of severely malnourished children requiring hospitalization is still high compared to the same period last year, with nearly 100 children being admitted to the intensive therapeutic feeding center every week.
MSF is constantly adapting to the exceptionally difficult humanitarian and security challenges in the camps. Despite limited international presence in the camp due to security concerns, MSF staff are still providing high quality medical care.
Photo:Kenya 2011 © Brendan Bannon - Somali refugees settle at the edge of Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp.