Antoine Larochette, head of Handicap International’s emergency mission in Kenya, has been travelling across the camps of Dadaab for several weeks. During that time, he has witnessed a constant increase in the number of refugees arriving at the camp. They include very vulnerable individuals who need special case-management.
“I was in Ifo, in one of the Dadaab camps, on Thursday morning with some of the emergency team,” explains Antoine. “The refugees continue to arrive at a rapid rate - well over a thousand a day. They are exhausted. Some have travelled by bus to the border. Others have been walking for days. They are mostly women, children and elderly people. They are given basic aid, including food, when they are registered, but because of a lack of space in the camps, which are filled to overflowing (the camps are designed to accommodate 90,000 people and are currently home to 400,000), the families have to set up shelters on the edge of the camp in insecure areas, often far from supplies of water and food.”
“So imagine how the most vulnerable individuals live in these conditions - the distress of isolated women with children and the destitution of people with disabilities who are unable to move around. When a distribution point is several kilometres away, they are sometimes completely unable to access international aid.”
“We have decided to expand our teams to tackle this situation. A team of emergency specialists is now ready to get down to work to supply the most vulnerable individuals with responsive aid.”
“Our priority is to provide them with good conditions on arrival in Dadaab, and to be recorded and identified so that we can provide them with specific aid, direct them to humanitarian organisations with which we work in coordination, and ensure that they benefit from a place to set up a shelter close to distributions points. We are also planning, if necessary, to provide transport aid to allow the weakest people to travel to the area where they will be able to stay over a long period. We will also distribute walking aids, such as wheelchairs, walking frames and crutches, to help them move around.”
“At the same time, our mobile teams will visit the 80,000 people who have arrived in the last few weeks. Our aim is to identify the most vulnerable individuals, including people with disabilities, and to ensure that the weakest have access to humanitarian aid and do not remain isolated under a shelter on the outskirts of the camp, whereas a few kilometres from there they could benefit from the support they need. From now on, we will work with other humanitarian operators to promote the accessibility of camps and distribution areas to ensure people with disabilities benefit from them.”
“This is a major crisis, but despite these conditions, there’s a real sense of solidarity between the people who already live in the refuge camps, sometimes for 20 years, and those who have been arriving over the last few weeks. Some families have been sharing their accommodation or the little they have. But the needs are so great that this won’t be enough. One of the camps, Ifo, is being equipped to accommodate new refugees. But that won’t be enough either. It will probably take several more months before all new refugees are provided with accommodation and decent conditions. That’s why, from now on, we are preparing to provide long-term aid to the refugees.”