Drought / East Africa / Pastoralism / Somalia / Vulnerability

Exodus from rural Somalia; long drought depletes families of last crops, animals, food

Kenya: Families wait outside Dadaab camp to register

Despite the dangers, thousands of refugees every week are making the journey to Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, walking for weeks across the desert and braving attacks by armed robbers and wild animals; Dadaab is now the world’s largest refugee complex, currently supporting more than 370,000 people (11 July 2011) (photo on Flickr by Oxfam International).

In the current deepening drought in the Horn of Africa, two hotspots, whether of hell or salvation depends on whether you’re starving in rural or urban areas, are the (now greatly overcrowded) Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya, with the dubious distinction of being the largest refugee camp in the world and to which desperately hungry Somali’s are escaping by the several thousands every week, or Mogadishu, where rural Somalis are heading in hope of finding some relief food and shelter at Badbaado, a new refugee camp outside the capital.

Oxfam reports: ‘Drought is worsening across the Horn of Africa, following successive failed rains. The late 2010 rainy season failed completely in many parts of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, and now the April-May rains have also performed well below average. Parts of northeast Kenya have received just 10% of the usual level of rainfall.

‘The price of staple foods has risen to unaffordable levels for many people, and weak animals and the collapse of livestock markets have reduced people’s income and ability to buy essentials. Hundreds of thousands of animals—people’s main assets—have reportedly died.’

To get a sense of what’s happening, watch and listen to an audio slideshow by photographer Kate Holt, who travelled to Dadaab to report on conditions of the new arrivals from Somalia, in the Guardian‘s Global Development Blog: Africa drought: Arriving at Dadaab, 14 Jul 2011.

Or watch a 1-minute Daily Telegraph video on the exodus of rural Somali’s to their capital, Mogadishu, in search of some kind of succour: Somali drought refugees head to Mogadishu, 14 Jul 2011.

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