Former Ottery student’s ‘shock’ at famine refugee camp

PUBLISHED: 07:02 21 July 2011

Newly arrived refugees from Somalia wait to be registered at Dagehaley camp, one of three camps that make up the Dadaab refugee camp in Dadaab, Noertheastern Kenya on the 9th July, 2011. In recent weeks over 1500 Somali refugees have been arriving daily  as a result of ongoing drought. and severe pressure is being put on already limited resources. The NGO Care International has worked in Dadaab since 1992 and is distributing  emergency food rations, blankets,water containers,sleeping mats and plastic sheets. Last night the UK Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) launched an appeal in response to the drought throughout East Africa.

Newly arrived refugees from Somalia wait to be registered at Dagehaley camp, one of three camps that make up the Dadaab refugee camp in Dadaab, Noertheastern Kenya on the 9th July, 2011. In recent weeks over 1500 Somali refugees have been arriving daily as a result of ongoing drought. and severe pressure is being put on already limited resources. The NGO Care International has worked in Dadaab since 1992 and is distributing  emergency food rations, blankets,water containers,sleeping mats and plastic sheets. Last night the UK Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) launched an appeal in response to the drought throughout East Africa.

KATE HOLT

More than 10 million people are at risk of starvation following the worst drought in East Africa for 60 years.

A FORMER pupil at Ottery’s The King’s School has described the ‘shocking’ scale of the world’s largest refugee camp.

Deborah Underdown, 28, visited Dadaab, on Somalia’s border with Kenya, to witness humanitarian work being carried out by charity CARE International in the wake of a severe drought affecting the Horn of Africa.

More than 10 million people are at risk of starvation, following the worst drought in East Africa for 60 years.

“It is a shocking place when you realise the scale of it,” Deborah told the Herald.

“The camp was built for 90,000 people, but had 370,000 there when I visited. A further 1,500 are arriving every day,”

“Some walk for 22 days and arrive with nothing.

“One woman made it to the camp, but then realised her baby, which she had been carrying on her back, had died along the way.”

“I met another woman who’d made it to the camp with her husband and their three children,” she added.

“Her husband died from TB just a few days later and she’s now got to rely on other people to help her because she is absolutely alone.”

Deborah says famine has made people refugees and that, once at the camp, the victims of nature cannot leave.

“They can’t go home,” she explained. “Once their livestock have died, they have got nothing left at all.”

CARE International is urgently trying to raise a huge sum of money to save lives.

“People are asking: ‘Why has this happened?’” said Deborah.

“But it is nobody’s fault it hasn’t rained. That’s the bottom line - it hasn’t rained.

“CARE International helped a million people at the start of the year, but now needs to raise £16 million to help 1.8 million more.”

“The scale of the problem is very hard to imagine but, once you have seen it, you realise how desperate people must be,” said Deborah.


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