Horn of Africa Food Crisis – Day Two at the Dadaab Refugee Camp


By Alexandra Lopoukhine, Emergency Media Officer

July 7, 2011

On the far outskirts of the Ifo camp (one of three that make up the Dadaab Refugee Camps), round houses – sticks intertwined and covered with tattered cloth and pieces of torn plastic, are home to the newly arrived refugees. Today, I walked around and met a few people who had just arrived – last week in fact.

There was excitement to have me around, the children were pretty interested in me and there was a lot of laughter and smiles. It is a wonderful thing about being human: the smile transcends languages.

But through an interpreter, I was able to understand the language of pain. The stories I heard today did bring me to tears, I will admit. So too did seeing malnourished children. Mothers patiently waiting at the M̩decins Sans Fronti̬res clinic which was well placed in the middle of the newly arrived area of homes Рtheir children receiving the immediate care they needed. CARE delivers water to this clinic; it was great to see a partnership of this sort, with the same goal of supporting the refugees, in action.

Some families have walked two weeks. Two weeks. Sleeping where they could, pushing-on to get to this camp.The children are much smaller than they should be. One story I heard was devastating: a mother walking, arrives at the clinic, takes her baby off her back and finds it has died without her knowing. I can't even imagine the pain this causes her. One man spoke to us in perfect English – he told us he has been a refugee since 1991, and now, here among the newly arrived, is his grandfather.

I feel privilege to have this time here, to talk and to hear the stories of people. I was asked today to tell the world, to share the stories and the reality of the situation. Thank you for reading.

Horn of Africa Food Crisis – Day Two at the Dadaab Refugee Camp image 1

Women and children collect water from a temporary water tap near the Ifo camp. (Photo: 2011 Alexandra Lopoukhine/CARE)