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UN Presence In Giant Refugee Camp 'Vital', Says WFP Head

WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran talks to one of the Somali refugees in the Dadaab refugee camps in northeastern Kenya.

(Copyright: WFP/Rose Ogola)

On the last leg of her five-day trip to Kenya, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran visited Dadaab, one of the biggest concentrations of refugees in the world. While there she spoke to some of the Somali women and children who had arrived in the camps after fleeing conflict in their own country.

DADAAB -- The UN’s presence in the sprawling Dadaab refugee camps in northeastern Kenya is “vital” because of the need to ensure food, shelter and security for families fleeing conflict in Somalia, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said Sunday during a visit to the three camps.

“Today I met Somali women and children who have fled conflict and arrived traumatised and suffering from malnutrition,” said Sheeran who visited the camps with UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres and Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director for UN Women.

“It is vital that we as United Nations agencies are here to protect them and provide the food  and shelter they need as refugees in Dadaab,” she continued.

New arrivals daily

Together, the three Dadaab camps house 314,000 Somali refugees and form one of the biggest concentrations of refugees in the world. The camps were originally designed to accommodate a total of 90,000 people but drought and two decades of violence have forced many more Somalis to flee their country and take refuge there.

"This is the largest refugee camp in the world and it's the one that is most complicated and under the most strain. We're seeing on average 10,000 new people flood into this area each month,” Sheeran said.

“We're really here to see how we can support UNHCR's efforts to make sure there's adequate services and care for the people here."

The heads of three United Nations agencies expressed deep concern about the living conditions of the refugees in Dadaab. Read news release