Relief groups in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp are becoming increasingly strained as over 55,000 refugees from Somalia fleeing drought and conflict have arrived in recent years. Some 20,000 have arrived this year alone. As extreme drought in Somalia and East Africa continues, without a significant scale up in support to the communities affected, up to 66,000 additional refugee arrivals are expected into Dadaab refugee camp by April 2023 - a total of 120,000 arrivals in dire need of critical assistance. IRC has been providing medical assistance, but with scarce resources it is calling upon international leaders to scale up funding and drought response activities across the region. 

The humanitarian situation in the camp has also uncovered a serious public health crisis caused by a lack of basic services, severe overcrowding, and a chronic lack of funding. With no registration of Somali asylum seekers since 2016, humanitarian assistance needs to be scaled up to address the demands of new arrivals, long-time refugees and host communities, as they continue to suffer due to the drought.

Mohamed El Montassir Hussein, IRC Kenya Country Director said,

“Dadaab has Africa’s largest concentration of refugees. Its population is at almost three times its intended size - the assistance provided by IRC in Dadaab is already completely overstretched and is not meeting the current needs. Hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees will struggle to find life-saving assistance by fleeing to Kenya this year unless urgent steps are taken to deal with a serious hunger and disease crisis unfolding in the Dadaab refugee camp.

“In Somalia where extreme drought and violence continues to displace thousands of people both internally and across borders, international leaders must ensure immediate funding is utilized to bring relief to and prevent displacement of 7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.’’

The International Rescue Committee provides vital support to refugees and Kenyan host communities struggling to recover from violence and natural disaster. IRC has been delivering health care in and around Dadaab for most of the camp’s 30-year existence. IRC's current programs are focused in the Hagadera camp, where teams provide comprehensive health care to refugees and host communities, including basic and specialised care. Currently, IRC provides COVID-19 vaccinations and awareness campaigns to reduce vaccine hesitancy; surveillance and treatment for patients with non-communicable diseases; mental health and psychosocial support; maternal, reproductive, and HIV services; nutrition assessments and programs to combat acute malnutrition; gender-based violence response and prevention programs; vocational training; and financial support.