New report looks at ongoing desperate situation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) launches today a public communication called “Dadaab: Back to square one.” In it MSF takes stock of the current humanitarian situation and operational challenges in Dadaab, Kenya, home to the world’s largest refugee camp. The open report also reviews the emergency response MSF provided throughout 2011.  “MSF now faces this dilemma: we want to continue to work in Dadaab, as the humanitarian situation is extremely serious; however, we are held back from deploying an adequate response given the insecurity of the situation,” says Laurent Ligozat, MSF deputy director of operations.  “For the time being, we have chosen to focus our activities predominantly on vital medical care. We are also prepared to expand our activities as soon as conditions allow.”

Kenya © Brendan Bannon
Somali refugees in Dadaab in 2011 carry their sick and malnourished children to a feeding centre run by MSF at the outskirts of the sprawling camp.

Since MSF has returned to Dadaab in early 2009 to take over healthcare in Dagahaley camp, the organization has repeatedly spoken out about the refugees’ desperate living conditions, and their need for humanitarian aid, protection and dignity. Today, MSF is again ringing the alarm bell. “Refugees need protection and care as their lives are becoming more difficult everyday. Their health is at risk of deteriorating rapidly while humanitarian aid agencies are struggling to provide meaningful assistance on an ongoing basis in an increasingly insecure context,” says Monica Rull, a physician and MSF program manager for Kenya and Somalia.

Kenya © Brendan Bannon
Abubakar Mohamed, deputy field coordinator for MSF in Dadaab refugee camp speaking to recently arrived refugees at a reception centre in 2011.

The refugees in Dadaab – and others on their way – need more than ever the continuous support of the UNHCR, the Kenyan government and humanitarian organizations to be able to survive. It is the responsibility of the decision makers to find solutions to reverse current trends, where refugees are paying the price for a conflict they are trying to escape and are at risk of becoming victims of the system that should assist them. The priority should remain providing assistance and protection to the thousands of refugees in front of everyone’s eyes. MSF is doing everything it can to bring about the safe release of Blanca Thiebaut and Montserrat Serra, the two MSF staff who were abducted in Dadaab, Kenya on Oct. 13 2011, while providing humanitarian assistance to Somali refugees. MSF calls on all Somalis – the diaspora, community leaders and especially the authorities in control of areas in Somalia where MSF’s kidnapped colleagues are being detained – to do everything possible to facilitate their safe release.

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