Dadaab Refugee Camp (Kenya)

Treatment a patient at home. (M. Ali/MSF)
A child is weighed in MSF's clinic. (T. Maruko/MSF)
An aerial view of Dagahaley. (T. Maruko/MSF)

Inside the MSF hospital. (M. Ali/MSF)

A brother and sister fetch water. (M. Ali/MSF)

Daily life in refugee camp. (A. Mire/MSF)

The maternity ward at MSF's hospital. (T. Maruko/MSF)
A woman fetches water. (T. Maruko/MSF)

MSF's team on their way to patient. (M. Ali/MSF)

A sick child with his sisters. (T. Maruko/MSF)
MSF staff (in red) play soccer with camp residents. (T. Maruko/MSF)

The Dadaab refugee camp complex is situated in northeastern Kenya, near the border with Somalia. Until early 2017, it consisted of five refugee camps. However, one of the camps, Kambioos, which was also the newest, was recently closed as refugees began returning to Somalia and the few remaining moved into the other camps.

Dadaab was established in the year 1991 following the beginning of the civil war in Somalia. Somalis were forced to flee as the war worsened, leaving to neighbouring countries including Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan.

Today, Dadaab is home to refugees from many countries in eastern and central Africa, including South Sudan, Burundi, Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia. Somali refugees make up more than 90% of the population. The camp complex now hosts about 240,000 refugees, according to the latest UNHCR figures (as of September 2017).

Refugees live in mud-walled houses with iron sheeting roofs, while some, especially new arrivals, live in tents. The physical set up of the camps is well organized, and sections have administrative leaders who live inside the camps.

MSF first started working in the camp in 1992. It later established a permanent presence in Dagahaley camp in 2009, and today the organisation runs a 100-bed hospital and two health posts.

In May 2016, the Government of Kenya announced that the Dadaab camps would be closed, essentially bringing an end to 25 years of refuge for thousands who call it home. Almost one year later, in February 2017, the Kenyan High Court declared that any closure would be illegal. The government has however maintained its stance in favour of the closure, although the deadline of May 2017 has now passed.

MSF believes that sending nearly a quarter of a million people back to a country which is torn apart by war and where healthcare is absent in many areas, is a dangerous and irresponsible action. MSF is calling for other alternatives to be urgently considered by the Government of Kenya and the UNHCR, supported by donor countries. These more durable solutions, such as smaller camps in Kenya, increased resettlement to third countries, or integration of refugees into Kenyan communities, must be put on the agenda of policy makers.

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Dadaab Camp 0.106333, 40.309333

GPS coordinates: 0°06’22.80″ N 40°18’33.60″ E

Where refugees come from: Somalia, South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, D.R. Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.

Other nearest camp: The nearest refugee camp is Kakuma in northwestern Kenya, about 1,100 kilometres away.

What do people say about Dadaab Camp

Charles Gaudry
Head of Mission for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Kenya

Options are limited for the thousands who call Dadaab home. Only a few months ago, one of the patients in the mental health programme run by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) committed suicide after his request to be resettled in a third country was rejected. This tragic story is symptomatic of a place where hundreds of thousands of people are trapped, and where they live with little hope for a better tomorrow. ..read more

Hassan Sugal Takoy
A social worker in Dadaab

We had to flee Somalia in 1992, when I was five. I cannot remember well what was going on in but I very vividly remember the fighting due to the civil war. ..read more

Dr Abdul Malik Wanyama
MSF doctor

The people living in the camp face several challenges. They have been displaced from their homes and their livelihood has been interrupted. Living in the camps and depending on donor aid is a very big challenge. They are exposed to poor sanitation and are highly susceptible to water-related conditions like diarrhoea, while the dusty conditions frequently cause upper respiratory tract infections. ..read more

Community leader
A Somali community leader in Dagaheley – Dadaab

I came to Dagahaley in June of 1992 and went back to Somalia in July 1993. I was working with an NGO. I had hope that Somalia would be peaceful again. I stayed in Somalia till 2005. In 2006 my younger brother was killed. ..read more

Refugee health volunteer

People here are confined to a camp that is only open from above. The food ration lacks nutrition; there are long queues at the tap stands for water; carcasses lie in the streets. Life is pathetic. ..read more

Somali Refugee
A member of community health committee

I have been a refugee in Dadaab for the past 24 years. I have had many opportunities, including having my children in school, free healthcare, maximum security. ..read more

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Facilities in Dadaab Camp

Food & Drink

Internet

Education

Health

Sanitary Facilities

Security

Social Activities

Reasons why people choose Dadaab Camp

   Proximity

   Escape

   Home

Number of people living in this camp (as of September 2017): 239,545

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