LIMITED EDITION 65 OF 75
Artist Matilde Gattoni
Dadaab, Kenia I 2011
Dadaab is located approximately 100 kilometers from the Kenya-Somalia border. Until recently, the local population traditionally consisted of nomadic Somali camel and goat herders. In July 2011 it was reported that more than 1000 people per day were arriving in dire need of assistance. The influx has placed great strain on the camps' resources: The capacity of the camps is about 90,000, but they were host to over 465,000 refugees as of July 2011, a number that is expected to increase to 450,000 by the end of 2011 according to estimates from Médecins Sans Frontières. These population figures rank Dadaab as the largest refugee camp in the world.
Dadaab features a UNHCR base that serves refugee camps around the town: Hagadera, Ifo and Dagahaley. The international humanitarian organization CARE is UNHCR's lead implementing partner responsible for managing the camp. Much of the town's economy is based on services for refugees.
Dadaab hosts people that have fled various conflicts in the larger Eastern Africa region. Most have come as a consequence of the civil war in southern Somalia. The camps cover a total area of 50 square km and are within an 18 km radius of Dadaab town. In December 2006, the Kenyan government closed its border to refugees, a move that sharply reduced the number of new arrivals to the UNHCR base. However, the region suffered a severe drought in 2011, causing a dramatic surge in the camps' population.
I went to Dadaab mid July 2011 and stayed 2 weeks to cover the arrival of the Somali refugees who were escaping from what the UN has classified as the worst drought in 60 years. I followed some families through the incredibly long procedure of being registered, getting food supplies and shelters. Most of them had walked for 30 days, carrying their kids, most of them had lost some relatives during the trip and had gone through the horrible experience of being raped, robbed, tortured, imprisoned by the Al Shabbab militiamen.