Emergency Media Officer Alexandra Lopoukhine describes the situation in Dadaab refugee camp, northern Kenya, where nearly 1,500 people are arriving each day.
Part 1: 8 July 2011
The heat is strong and the wind is blowing. The shade provides relief. People are lined-up, orderly, and patient. There is an overwhelming sense of calm. This is not exactly what I would have expected in the Dagahaley registration center, as today, 1055 people wait for food and to be brought into the UNHCR system.
Then we spoke to a few of the women and they explained their long and challenging journey that brought them here, to the world's largest refugee camp. They told us of their days of walking, of the challenges they faced in the last few days, and last few hours before they reach here. The hunger they faced at home. The insecurity. One women explained she had heard on the radio in Somalia that here, in Dadaab, they were giving away free food. This was the information she needed to get her kids in order, and start the move. People were calm, I realised, because they had arrived.
They arrived to be greeted by staff from UNHCR, WFP, CARE, and so many other organisations here, ready, and able to support. Relief was offered in supplies of water, of food, and order. Orderly lines, orderly registration points, orderly information given to people reeling from their recent history of chaos. This is today's relief.