Closure of Refugee Camps Causes Further Displacement

Many refugees say life has been getting harder in the camps for the past few year Many refugees say life has been getting harder in the camps for the past few year Moulid Hujale

18 May 2016
Worsening conditions at shelters and the closure of refugee camps is causing further displacement.

Earlier in May, Kenya announced that it would shut down two of the world’s largest refugee camps, Dadaab and Kakuma. Lack of humanitarian funding, deterioration of shelters and health conditions, and reduction of food rations meant that it was only a matter of time before the camps were officially closed. The refugees were not surprised to hear the announcement, but still were gripped by fear of further risks they would face upon leaving the camp.Dadaab was originally a temporary settlement at the onset of Somalia’s civil war in 1991. Well into its 25th year of existence, Dadaab is currently home to approximately 350,000 people, making it as large as a town. Over the years, refugees have set up businesses in the camp, generating millions of shillings for the Kenyan economy. Yet, lack of funding to maintain the shelter has been one of the main reasons for its closure, along with the Kenyan government claiming the camp to be a haven for terrorists.In 2015, the number of refugees and internally displaced persons in the world amounted to over 20 million. Less than 1% of these refugees have been resettled, despite the growing number of people fleeing war, violence and persecution worldwide. Yet, the closing of refugee camps and worsening conditions of shelters for refugees is now causing further displacement and exposing them to even greater insecurity.In December 2014, Somali refugees received facilitated voluntary repatriation to safe zones in Somalia. Around 14,000 refugees were sent back to Somalia, but this resulted in further displacement because they had nowhere to live upon return. Amino, a pregnant mother, was raped by four men that attacked her family and killed her husband upon their return to their house in Baladweyne in south-central Somalia. “I pleaded to them that I was pregnant but they never listened to me. They ordered us to leave the house without delay, claiming that it belongs to them. My eldest daughter is still missing,” said Amino.  

Today, the United Nations refugee agency announced its launch of a new campaign, ‘Nobody Left Outside’. Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees stated, “Shelter is the foundation stone for refugees to survive and recover, and should be considered a non-negotiable human right”.

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