Friday, April 17, 2009

Human tide of misery flees the anarchy of Somalia


Medeshi April 17, 2009
Human tide of misery flees the anarchy of Somalia
As the world follows the escapades of the country's pirates, civilians are fleeing the anarchy on land, creating the world's biggest refugee camp
By Daniel Howden, Africa Correspondent

The lucky ones come with their families, others appear out of the thorn bushes, walking alone. Five hundred Somalis are now arriving at this bleak Kenyan outpost every day. They join a population of 267,000 and counting, in a facility built to shelter just 45,000. While the world has been captivated by the high seas drama of Somalia's pirates, this human tide has swollen the ranks of Dadaab, turning it into the world's largest refugee camp.
The new arrivals sit in their hundreds under a makeshift tarpaulin, trying to keep perfectly still in temperatures that reach 40C in the shade. It speaks volumes for the horrors unfolding in Somalia that people will abandon their homes, risk arbitrary arrest, death or starvation to reach the desolate welcome on offer in this corner of northern Kenya.
These people are proof of the human cost of the accelerating collapse of Somalia, yet their fate attracts nothing like the global interest that surrounds Somali piracy and its threat to commerce. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) that runs Dadaab urgently needs new money from international donors and new land from the Kenyan government. Neither has been forthcoming. The annual budget for this camp is $19m (£13m) – roughly half the annual operational cost of a single warship patrolling the Indian Ocean in search of modern-day Blackbeards

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