Dadaab, Kenya, (August 18, 2011)
— The first of 30,000 Somali refugees are expected to move into a new area of the world's largest refugee camp Thursday thanks in part to a donation of 5,000 tents by international aid agency World Vision
. The new tents are going up just as the region faces the possibility of heavy rains – and the risk of flash floods – despite months of dry weather. The tents will also help protect the vulnerable from malaria, a potentially deadly disease for children and those weakened by malnourishment.
Baaf Guled, 50, his wife, Mimino, and their six children said they were grateful to be moving into a tent after an arduous journey out of Somalia. He arrived in the Dadaab area two days ago after a 12-day walk from Mogadishu.
"We had nowhere to sleep so we slept out at night under the stars," said Baaf Guled. "I was worried for my family because of the mosquitoes and malaria. We left Somalia because of the violence and hunger."
The Dadaab complex
sits on a windswept plateau close to the Somali border and houses 440,000 refugees. Most have fled drought at the rate of 1,800 per day – either into Kenya or Ethiopia. World Vision has already dispatched more than 2,500 tents to Dadaab and erected hundreds of them, ready for the arrival of the refugees
who are being moved in from transition areas around the vast complex. The remaining 2,500 tents are enroute by airlift and expected to arrive into Nairobi on Friday where they will be driven 286 miles to the camp. The aid agency is working closely with the International Organization for Migration (IOM)
and the United Nations' Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
to establish this part of the camp.
World Vision's shelter expert, Mike Pattison, said: "Refugees families will be much better off once they are housed in these tents. Thousands of women and children have faced the most daunting trek through dry land without food to escape famine in Somalia and get to the camp. As the world marks World Humanitarian Day on Friday, it's a sad reminder that millions of men, women and children continue to be displaced by war, conflict, environmental problems and drought."
The Dadaab complex is made up of three separate camp areas and the tents are going up in IFO extension, a new area that is designed to accommodate the ever-swelling numbers of arrivals. The tents have been provided thanks to a partnership between World Vision and ShelterBox
, a UK charity.
Pattison said the tents are designed not only to protect refugees from the weather but also snakes and insects. Additionally, they will provide much-needed privacy for families living in the crowded camp. However, he said the intervention would meet only 12 percent of the 40,000 tents required to meet demand. The aid agency also handed out 5,000 emergency kits that include blankets, mosquito nets, buckets, cooking utensils, and personal hygiene items.
World Vision's emergency communications officer, Mindy Mizell, who was in Dadaab Thursday morning to ensure the refugees were housed said: "Dadaab is a dry, dusty desert camp overflowing with a sea of people. There aren't enough tents for everyone moving in so families are building their own makeshift homes out of sticks, blankets and clothes. Having a tent is going to bring a huge improvement to people who are already in desperate straits.To support World Vision's relief efforts in the Horn of Africa, please visit www.worldvision.org, call 1-888-56-CHILD (1-888-562-4453) or text "4AFRICA" to 20222 to donate $10.About World VisionWorld Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. We serve the world's poor
— regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.For more information on their efforts, visitWorldVision.org/press or follow them on Twitter at @WorldVisionNews