Wed, 29 Nov 2023

Nairobi - The United Nations refugee agency is appealing for greater donor support to help the millions in the Horn of Africa who have fled their homes to escape record drought, conflict and hunger.

Okash Adan Abdullahi, 34, fled the town of Sakow in the Middle Juba region of Somalia. He is the owner of two farms, but due to failed rains, he was forced to flee the country and crossed to the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya.

The father of 14 said there are many problems in the camp. He said he arrived in August, but has yet to receive any assistance from the U.N. humanitarian organizations in the camp. At first, he was without a registration card, but he now has a food ration card. However, he has not yet gotten food.

Amina Hassan, a farmer, fled the town of Jilib in southern Somalia for Kenya last month. The mother of six said she has been to the registration center multiple times, but has yet to be accepted as a refugee. She said she has no food to cook for her family.

The Kenyan government stopped issuing refugee registration cards to refugees in 2016, as it keeps threatening to close the camps. Consequently, tens of thousands of people live in the camp without proper documentation.

FILE - Somali refugees walk along a dirt road in northern Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp, Dec. 19, 2017. FILE - Somali refugees walk along a dirt road in northern Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp, Dec. 19, 2017.

However, the aid agencies say they provide humanitarian assistance whether a person is registered as a refugee or not.

Like the other countries in the Horn of Africa, Somalia is facing its worst drought in 40 years, and more than 7 million people in the country are experiencing severe food insecurity. It is estimated that at least one million Somalis are internally displaced, and tens of thousands have fled to Ethiopia and Kenya.

Adan Ali, 27, said he recently left Jilib town in Somalia because the unpredictable weather made life as a farmer difficult for him and his family. There is nothing there but drought, he said, and everyone is moving to save their families.

Jilib is a town under the control of militant group al-Shabab. Aid agencies have struggled to reach those in need there and in many other places under the control of the group.

Faith Kasina, U.N. refugee agency spokesperson for Eastern Africa, the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region, said the aid agency supports more than 185,000 people in Somalia and those who crossed the border to other countries in the region.

'In the counties that Somalis are also moving into, we're similarly supporting them through shelter and hygiene,' she said, adding, '[we are] essentially ensuring that they have all the necessary support for their lives to be saved as we continue appealing for additional funding to ensure that they are supported to move from the humanitarian stage of this response to more livelihood-oriented activities that will ensure that they are able to earn an income when conditions allow and rely on themselves.'

In June, the U.N. refugee agency requested $42.2 million to cover humanitarian needs in refugee camps and IDP settlements in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia until the end of the year.

The World Food Program on Friday received $194.5 million from the U.S. government. The WFP said the funding would help scale up the drought response and support over half a million refugees living in the camps in Kenya.

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