Refugee Crisis in the Horn of Africa

By Amanda Watson, IINE Development Intern

The Horn of Africa is currently experiencing the worst drought it has seen in 60 years, affecting 9 million people and resulting in famine and a massive refugee crisis in the region. Especially hard hit has been Somalia, where the effect of the drought is compounded by violence and instability from the country’s ongoing conflict between Islamist militants and the government, which also limits the ability of humanitarian aid actors to work within the country. According to the UNHCR, there are more than 750,000 Somali refugees living in the neighboring countries of Kenya, Yemen and Ethiopia, as well as 1.46 million people displaced within Somalia.

Much of the burden of the refugee crisis has fallen on Kenya. Already 61,000 Somalis have arrived in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp this year, with an estimated 1,300 new arrivals every day. The Dadaab complex, the largest refugee camp in the world, was built for 90,000 people but currently holds over 370,000. The recent influx of Somali refugees, many of whom are severely malnourished, has increased capacity pressures on the already overpopulated complex. According to UNHCR reports, pressure in Dadaab due to overcrowding has led to outbreaks of violence resulting in several deaths. More and more refugees are also forced to settle outside the boundaries of the camp where they are vulnerable to seasonal floods and access to basic humanitarian services is limited.

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