12 July 2012
Last updated at 09:06
A year on from the food crisis that hit East Africa, the camp of Dadaab is still bursting at the seams, with aid agencies warning of a new funding crisis. Home to more than 465,000 - mostly Somalis who have fled drought and conflict over the last two decades. Many foreign aid workers have left Dadaab in the last nine months because of the threat of kidnappings. These photos reveal a rare glimpse into life within the world’s largest refugee camp.
Fatuma Sankos and her children arrived in the Kambioos section of Dadaab three months ago. She lives in a house made of plastic bags. She had nothing when she arrived, and what she has now she was given to her by the community. Both her children are malnourished. An average of 60 severely acutely malnourished children suffer from medical complications each month in Dadaab.
Ibrahim has lived in Dadaab for two years. He is now the head boy at Equatir Primary School in the new Ifo 2 part of the camp and wants to be a doctor. The school has 2,600 students and 17 teachers – one class has 250 pupils. Over half of the children in Dadaab camps are not in school. Aid agencies, including Oxfam, are warning that money for vital services in the camp is set to run out in a few months time if $25m (£16m) is not raised.
This football team in Ifo camp practises four times a week – and plays matches against teams twice a week. A tournament between the camp's five sections was played in May.
A cafe, called Sabrina Hotel, started during the construction of Ifo 2, which opened a year ago and now hosts nearly 74,000 people. With the arrival of the new refugees, the cafe has expanded. It is near the UN refugee compound and does good business with the agency staff too.
Eighteen-year-old Mumia Abdi Mohamed, who arrived in Dadaab a year ago fleeing the famine, works at Sabrina Hotel, earning about $35 (£23) a month. Funding to maintain the water supplies in Ifo 2 and Kambioos camp sections are due to run out in September, which would deprive 50,000 people of water.
Mohamed Hassan Aden and his son have been camel butchers in Dadaab for the past three years. Last year’s drought – declared the region's worst in 60 years by the UN – made business difficult as many animals died and those that survived had very little meat. The animals are slaughtered under strict regulations in an abattoir at 03:00 and transported by donkey to the market for 07:00. A special license is needed to be a butcher, but Mohamed believes many sell meat without one.
Cadaalo Beauty Salon in Ifo camp is run by Asha Mohamed who arrived in Dadaab in 2008. She braids and cuts hair, and applies henna tattoos. She says the Arabic designs are the most fashionable among young women in the camps.
Between February and May 2012 there was a 36% rise in reported sexual violence in Dadaab - women and girls are the most vulnerable. They are exposed to attack while collecting firewood, using poorly lit latrines and on long walks to access services. Funding for services to respond to sexual violence has decreased by 50%.
Mohamed Abdillahi Abeh is Dadaab’s first millionaire. He has lived in the original Ifo section of the camp since it first opened in 1991, when Somalia's last effective government collapsed. Starting with about $240, he eventually opened 15 shops, including pharmacies, electronic and grocery stores. Today he is feeling the economic bite of insecurity as people stop going to the market for fear of improvised explosive devices laid to target the police. Now he only has seven shops and has applied to be relocated to the US, the UK or Australia.
The Hagadera youth office trains young people how to build websites and in general information and communication technology. The citizen journalism website dadaabcamps.com is run by the students pictured here, who are all on Facebook and Twitter. More than half the population of Dadaab camp are children and young people.
Dadaab also has a theatre group, which has been running for the last 10 years, to educate the community about issues such as HIV/Aids and refugee rights. The aid agencies say as global attention has shifted from Dadaab, funding for the camp has not kept pace, putting lives of its thousands of its residents at risk.