When Somalia was struck by famine in 2011, many refugees crossed into neighbouring Kenya, seeking food, safety and security. The majority of these refugees ended up at Dadaab refugee camp complex.
In 2011, the Kenya Red Cross began providing services in areas of Dadaab. The British Red Cross has already provided over £1million in funding, and continues to support the Kenya Red Cross’ work in the camp.
Kenya’s third city
With a total population of over 450,000 people, the Dadaab refugee camp complex is effectively Kenya’s third largest city. But, unlike other cities, its residents are all refugees.
The complex has existed for years, but the 2011 famine in Somalia caused even more people to leave their homes and seek better conditions in neighbouring Kenya.
Based around the small town of Dadaab, near the border with Somalia, this city of refugees is in fact made up of several camps. One of these camps is Ifo II – home to over 75,000 people.
In 2011, the Kenya Red Cross began providing services in Ifo II, after ongoing violence and insecurity in and around the camp led to many humanitarian agencies withdrawing from the region or scaling down operations.
Story continues below the map of Ifo II camp
Ifo II camp
Family life centre
The Kenya Red Cross is managing Ifo II West camp in Dadaab and providing essential health and nutrition services, emotional support and security training in Ifo II East. It is also promoting hygiene and, at the request of the UN Refugee Agency, is taking on water and sanitation services previously provided by other agencies.
When the Kenya Red Cross began providing healthcare and nutrition services at the Ifo II camp in October 2011, it helped to drastically reduce the number of people suffering from severe malnutrition by summer 2012.
The Kenya Red Cross also built 1,500 new latrines, which are now in use. Over 5,000 more latrines are being built. Together with the Red Cross’ hygiene promotion activities in the camp, these new facilities will help prevent outbreaks of disease.
Difficult and dangerous conditions
Despite the Kenya Red Cross’ work, life remains hard for refugees in Ifo II. There are only five health centres – each serving 15,000 people. There are only 15 primary schools – and one secondary school –serving the entire camp.
The situation for people living in the camps – and for organisations working in Dadaab – is dangerous. The threat of improvised explosive devices, kidnappings, vehicle hijackings and banditry remains high. Several police officers and refugee leaders have been killed, and aid workers have been kidnapped.
As our disaster response manager Barry Armstrong puts it: “The Kenya Red Cross has helped improve the lives of refugees living in Ifo II camp in many ways – from reducing malnutrition to improving sanitation. However, the problems faced by these refugees are ongoing.
The East Africa Food Crisis Appeal is now closed. Help us respond to future crises by donating to the Disaster Fund
Updated October 2012