Child Survival in a Changing Climate

Project location: WORLDWIDE, Various Countries
Project start date: August 2010 - Project end date: August 2012
Project number: 2010-24
Beneficiary: Associazione Witness Image


 Somalia is the country in the Horn of Africa most threatened by famine. A twenty-year war and the worse drought of the last sixty years determined the most severe humanitarian disaster taking place in the world. Nearly 2.85 million people urgently need humanitarian aid. Last July 20th the UN declared famine (the highest level of food emergency) in the regions of South Somalia. Thousands of Somalis are heading to the Dadaab camp, the largest refugee camp in the world, located in the north of Kenya, a few kilometers from the border with Somalia. This facility, was built to host 9 thousand people, but today over 380 thousand individuals live there, with new refugees continuously arriving after traveling for days, looking for a shelter. Hope is buried there, in the unraveling of shanties kept together by the desperation of those who try to escape the famine that hit millions of people in the Horn of Africa. However, the arrival to Dadaab is not a guarantee of survival, especially for children that are malnourished, unhealthy and vulnerable. In the refugee camps of Dadaab, on average 5 children die every day in this period of emergency.

There is then the problem of registration of refugees; as from January about 1,700 refugees reach the Dadaab camp every day, but the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is able to register at maximum 700 of them each day, with waiting times of even one month. Not being registered means not receiving any food, not to avail oneself of healthcare facilities, not to have a place to lay the bases for a new life. Global warming, the increase in drought and the subsequent desertification represent a decisive factor for the migration of millions of eco-refugees all over the world.
According to "The Environment and Human Security", environmental refugees amount to nearly 50 millions, and this number might increase to 150 millions in 2050. A long silent queue: nobody smiles, no one has a word with anybody, no one elbows. A thousand of escaping Somalis, every morning, after crossing the border with Kenya, and walking for additional 80 kilometers, queue in front of the UNHCR Registration site of Dadaab, in Kenya. In the area designated for the United Nations, every single refugee is photographed and fingerprinted. The UN registration is a miraculous goal: it finally means tents, lavatories, drinking water, healthcare facilities and food passes. Dadaab presently shelters more than 380,000 refugees; it is also calculated that over 40,000 people live outside of the perimeter of the camp, outside of the jurisdiction and the control of the United Nations.

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