Document - Somalia: International community must address the immediate and long-term needs of Somali refugees
28 July 2011
Index: AFR 52/006/2011
International community must address the immediate and long-term needs of Somali refugees
On the day marking the 60th anniversary of the UN Refugee Convention, Amnesty International calls on the international community to robustly and actively protect the human rights of people fleeing the humanitarian crisis and armed conflict in Somalia.
Nearly 800,000 Somali people are displaced in neighbouring countries. Around 380,000 of these are living in Dadaab, a complex of refugee camps in North Eastern Kenya. The camps were opened in 1991 to house up to 90,000 people. They now constitute the biggest refugee camp in the world.
Almost 100,000 Somali people have fled to Kenya since the beginning of 2011, 60,000 of these to Dadaab with average daily arrivals of 1,300 according to UNHCR, in July 2011.
The international community must fully support UNHCR and humanitarian agencies to ensure that all those fleeing Somalia have their basic needs met, including food, water, shelter and access to medical care, and are adequately protected from human rights violations.
While Amnesty International welcomes the 13 July 2011 announcement by the Kenyan government of its intention to open an unused camp extension, Ifo II, with a capacity to accommodate a further 80,000 people in Dadaab to deal with the growing influx of Somali refugees, the organization is concerned that this decision has thus far not been implemented.
Amnesty International urges the Kenyan authorities to immediately open the Ifo II extension. The organization, however, warns that the extension will provide only temporary respite easing overcrowding in the camps. As a result, the organization calls on the Kenyan authorities to act swiftly to open a new camp altogether.
Amnesty International acknowledges that Kenya shoulders the lion’s share of responsibility worldwide for hosting Somali refugees. The world cannot condemn Somali refugees to live in overcrowded camps forever. It must do more to provide durable solutions to such large numbers of refugees. In the spirit of cooperation and commitment to human rights, governments globally must immediately substantially increase the number of Somali refugees resettled out of camps in Kenya and other countries in the region to safe third countries. Offers of resettlement places need to be more than a token gesture, given the numbers involved.
To mark the 60th anniversary of the Refugee Convention, the key legal treaty defining the rights of refugees, the world must provide substantial and long-term support to Somali refugees so that they can enjoy the full spectrum of human rights, in addition to responding to Somalia’s humanitarian emergency.
Amnesty International has previously highlighted the severe overcrowding in Dadaab, which has undermined refugees’ access to essential services, including water, shelter and medical aid. Amnesty International also documented human rights violations committed against refugees by Kenyan security forces, including police abuse and forced returns to Somalia.
For further information see From Life Without Peace to Peace Without Life (AI Index: AFR 32/015/2010