A look inside one of the world’s largest refugee camps
Published Saturday, April 15, 2017 10:00PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 15, 2017 10:18PM EDT
Located in eastern Kenya, sprawling Dadaab is one of the largest refugee camp complexes in the world. It’s also a place the Kenyan government wants to close.
“The best response is to help the refugees to return and rebuild their nation,” Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, said in a recent speech.
Fearing war and drought, however, the vast majority of the complex’s residents would rather stay put.
The camp complex, which is home to more than 250,000 people, was first opened in 1991 as a temporary shelter for people fleeing civil war in neighbouring Somalia. Decades later, the Kenyan government says the camp complex has become a financial burden and a security concern. Officials claim that al-Shabaab, a terrorist group, uses the complex to recruit new members.
Liesbeth Aelbrechtm, who heads Doctors Without Borders’ Kenya mission, says that closing the camp would create even more hardship, as most residents are totally dependent on aid.
“There is not self-reliance at all,” Aelbrechtm told CTV News. “They have never been allowed to work, to move freely or to integrate.”
What’s more, a severe drought is currently plaguing East Africa. In Somalia alone, it is estimated that more than six million people don’t have enough to eat.
“As you can see, it is mainly women, mainly children in these communities,” said Richard Trenchard, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations representative for Somalia. “They have absolutely nothing whatsoever.”
With food and water lacking in their home country, most Somali refugees say they don’t want to leave Dadaab.
“A stunning 86 per cent of them said they were absolutely not ready to return to Somalia,” Aelbrechtm said.
Kenya’s highest court recently blocked a proposal to shutter the camp. Despite that, the Kenyan government continues to insist upon its closure, setting a goal -- the end of this May -- for residents to leave.
With a report from CTV Vancouver Bureau Chief Melanie Nagy