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Special: Behind the Horn of Africa famine

(Global Times)

08:58, September 02, 2011


A doctor examines a child suffering from malnutrition at the Ifo hospital in the Dadaab refugee camp. Photo: Pei Guangjiang

It is morning in Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp in eastern Kenya, 100 kilometers west of the Somalian border.

Hundreds of refugees are lining up for food after arriving here by walking for weeks to flee drought, civil conflict and famine in Somalia.

"We walked for 15 days. We sold almost all our belongings for food and sometimes we had to beg," Dayah, a refugee, told the Global Times.

Dayah is from a small town near Somalia's capital of Mogadishu. Although the country has been engulfed in war for 20 years, the recent drought and famine finally drove Dayah and his family away from their hometown.

Refugee and food crisis

This year has seen the Horn of Africa hit by a drought that has triggered a severe food crisis across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

The UN estimates that about 11.3 million people are in need of food assistance in the region, declaring a state of famine for the first time in nearly 30 years.

"Every family will get food rations for 21 days upon their arrival at Dadaab," William Spindler, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told the Global Times.

Spindler said the Dadaab Refugee Camp was already home to more than 400,000 refugees, with around 1,300 more arriving each day. The camp was originally designed to hold 90,000.

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