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HORN OF AFRICA/ 3. Maria (AVSI): They desire bread, water and education

Maria Li Gobbi provides ilsussidiario.net with an update on the situation in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, where thousands come every day fleeing the famine and the war in Somalia.

School in the Dadaab refugee camp School in the Dadaab refugee camp

This is third report on the situation in the refugee camp at Dadaab in Kenya, sent to us by Maria Li Gobbi who is operating there on behalf of the Italian NGO AVSI.

Abiba is little more than a child. A child-mother of two children, the second of which was born in the Ifo camp. She arrived here three months ago, after leaving Salgale, Somalia without saying anything to her husband, a nomad who has been impossible to get in touch with for months. She left with her mother, her seven year old daughter, and her other child in her stomach. She was organized for the trip. She had a car, food and even gas, but she was robbed by bandits before arriving at the border and they took away everything she had. She walked for two days before finding another car that took her to the border. From here she went by foot for two days to reach the Dadaab camp.

Now she lives with her mother and children without any news of her husband. Her story is one of many. We AVSI workers continue to help in the camp in collaboration with the Italian Cooperation and the UNHCR, the UN organization for refugees, which is responsible for the camp along with the Kenyan government. People arrive in continuation and it is difficult to meet all of them and hear the painful stories that they tell us. Like the story of Momina, 48 years old, who comes from Hagar. When she arrived, the first thing we noticed was that she was very beautiful. Like many who have left because of the drought, she told us right away that she had 8 children. Now she is missing one because one night, while she was sleeping under a tree, a warthog attacked her family and took her seven-month-old son away. She kept walking and was attacked by bandits, who took everything, from her money to her clothes. She was able to get to the border, where she met a “good Samaritan”, as she calls him, who brought her and her children to us. She is crying and her voice is weak but not despairing. What has struck me here is that, despite their need for food, water and medicine, the people here are still asking that their children can go to school. We think this is a positive sign because it is clear that they are not resigned to the desperate conditions in which they live.