— The Erimtan Angle —

‘Somalian refugees flee famine and fighting as the civil war continues against the government and al-Qaeda allies Al-Shabab. Kenyan troops increased involvement in the Somali conflict have virtually blocked off all escape routes from Somaliainto neighboring Kenya. As a result, Somalis have fled to Ethiopian refugee camps. Pulitzer Center Grantee Fred de Sam Lazaro discusses the reality of these overcrowded refugee camps on a segment for PBS NewsHour. Ethiopian border post Dolo Ado sees 400 new refugees a day, averaging a total of 135,000 refugees in the refugee camp so far. While aid organizations like the UN World Food Program provide resources to maintain the refugee camps, they will soon run out of funding. Doctors Without Borders Dr. Benjamin Levy states malnutrition is the systemic problem in these refugee camps. Levy believes that without food and funding from outside aid organizations, this problem will only persist’ (13 June 2012).

Fred de Sam Lazaro explains further that the “influx [of refugees into Ethiopia] has doubled from September to October [2011] at the remote Somalia-Ethiopia border post of Dolo Ado. More than 400 people, mostly women and children arrive each day, their needs triaged first by the aid group Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym, MSF. Many land next in the group’s emergency feeding center to rebuild bodies withered by days-long treks in blistering daytime heat and nights in the open. Settlement comes next, into four major camps that have been set up in this sprawling arid landscape. A fifth camp is under construction. For aid providers there are myriad concerns and imminent threats: sustaining food and physical security and the donations that are needed to sustain this growing population, now estimated at 135,000. And MSF physician Benjamin Levy isn’t sure he’s seen the end of the influx. Many Somalis, terrified and paralyzed by the conflict, may simply be waiting for the fighting to subside to escape from their drought-stricken homeland. ‘The situation is absolutely far from resolved’, he said. Even the advent of long-awaited rains is a decidedly mixed blessing because they raise the threat of disease outbreaks in a population physically battered by the ordeal to get to the camps”.[1]


[1] Fred de Sam Lazaro, “Ethiopia: Somali Refugees Flee Fighting and Famine” Pulitzer Center. http://pulitzercenter.org/projects/ethiopia-famine-somali-refugees-drought-al-shabab.

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