militia and health fears mean Somali refugees want to
stay in Kenya: charity
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[October 13, 2016]
By Katy Migiro
NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - More
than eight out of 10 Somalis living in the world's largest refugee camp,
which Kenya plans to close by November, are unwilling to return home,
fearing rape, forced recruitment into militias and lack of medical care,
a charity said on Wednesday.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said the return to Somalia of some
300,000 refugees living in Dadaab camp would be disastrous for their
health, putting them at risk of malnutrition and infectious diseases
"Hundreds of thousands of lives will be put at risk," MSF said in a
report sent to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"Extreme levels of insecurity and a dangerous absence of medical
care mean that the conditions necessary for a safe and dignified
return are simply not present in many parts of Somalia today."
Kenya hosts the largest population of Somali refugees who have fled
a 25-year-old civil war in the Horn of Africa country, according to
the United Nations.
Kenya and the UN have said returns are being conducted on a
voluntarily basis, with refugees being taken to designated safe
They have appealed to donors for funding to provide better health
and education services in Somalia. [nL8N1BX1LP]
Kenya says it has to close Dadaab for its own security as the camp
has been infiltrated by "terrorist cells" which have carried out
deadly attacks on Kenyan soil.
Children arriving in Kenya from Somalia have never received routine
childhood vaccinations, MSF said, and new arrivals often fall sick
Polio, which has almost been eradicated globally through
vaccination, broke out in 2014 in Somalia, illustrating the weakness
of its health services.
"I am afraid to go back because there is no life and no hope there,"
one refugee cited in the report told MSF.
In Somalia, private clinics are prohibitively expensive and
pharmacies often stock out of date and poor quality drugs, some of
the 800 refugees living in Dadaab surveyed by MSF in July and August
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In remote parts of the country, people have to rely on traditional
herbs and healers, they said.
Three out of 10 of those surveyed by MSF have a household member who
needs medical care for a chronic condition, such as asthma, diabetes
They will have little access to treatment in Somalia, MSF said, and
tuberculosis patients whose medication is interrupted risk
developing the drug-resistant form of the disease.
Two out of 10 of refugees surveyed have a household member who needs
mental healthcare, which is much less readily available in Somalia,
MSF called on Kenya, the U.N. and donors to consider other
solutions, such as resettlement in third countries, integration into
Kenyan society and the construction of smaller and more manageable
(Reporting by Katy Migiro; Editing by Astrid Zweynert. Please credit
the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson
Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking,
property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org to
see more stories.)
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