New tents erected in Kenyan refugee camp

Dadaab, Kenya, is the world’s largest refugee camp, and a destination point for the hundreds of thousands of families who have fled drought in parts of East Africa, and violent conflict in Somalia. The camp is already significantly over capacity, home to more than 400,000 people. But an extension to the camp provides a glimmer of hope for its residents.

Published August 18, 2011 at 12:00am PDT

Some 5,000 new tents are going up at Dadaab refugee camp, Kenya, just as the region faces the possibility of heavy rains — and the risk of flash floods — despite months of dry weather.

Journey out of Somalia

Baaf Guled, 50, his wife, Mimino, and their six children are 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, Somalia’s capital. 

“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. "

1,800 per day fleeing drought

In Kenya, the Dadaab complex sits on a windswept plateau, close to the Somali border, and now houses 440,000 refugees. Most have fled drought at the rate of 1,800 per day — either into Kenya or Ethiopia.

“Refugee families will be much better off once they are housed in these tents,” says World Vision’s shelter expert, Mike Pattison. “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.”

‘A huge improvement’

Provided through a partnership between World Vision and ShelterBox, a UK charity, the tents will also help protect the vulnerable from malaria, a potentially deadly disease for children and those weakened by malnourishment. They will also provide much-needed privacy for families living in the crowded camp, and protection from snakes.

World Vision’s emergency communications officer, Mindy Mizell, explains the scene. “Dadaab is a dry, dusty desert camp overflowing with a sea of people,” she says.

“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.”

However, the intervention will only meet 12 percent of the 40,000 tents required to meet demand.

Tents dispatched

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 en route by airlift and expected to arrive into Nairobi, where they will be driven 286 miles to the camp. We are 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 also handed out 5,000 emergency kits that include blankets, mosquito nets, buckets, cooking utensils, and personal hygiene items.

Two ways you can help

Pray for children and families in the Dadaab camp. Thank God for the new shelters for some 5,000 families. Pray for more resources to assist the more than 40,000 families still in need of shelter around the camp.

Make a one-time gift to our Horn of Africa Food Crisis Fund. Your donation will multiply five times to help provide emergency food, healthcare, and other critical assistance to this suffering part of the world.