about the author
Public Information Officer for Kenya
Gabrielle Menezes joined WFP in 2008 and is currently a public information officer for the organization in Nairobi.
Habib Omar is one of the 14.5 million refugees and displaced people worldwide relying on WFP for food. To mark World Refugee Day (June 20) we took a look at the life of Habib and other Somali refugees in the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya.
DADAAB -- Baked by the relentless sun, covered in dust and with only a few thorn trees to provide shade, Dadaab refugee camp currently hosts over 279,000 refugees, and every month thousands more flee here for protection. It’s one of the largest refugee camps in the world.
There are 42 million refugees and displaced people in the world today, according to UN refugee agency UNHCR.
WFP often works with UNHCR, providing food assistance for refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs) and returnees in some of the most dangerous and hard-to-reach parts of the globe. Learn more
Habib Omar sits in the dust, patiently waiting to be officially registered as a refugee. “I fled from Somalia. One day, a militia came to my home and killed my brother and father. I fled with 8 children. Five got lost on the way. I don’t know what happened to them.”
Violence is a part of everyday life for most people who come from Somalia. Habib’s story is not uncommon. Everyone here has stories of family members who were killed, children who were lost, or daughters who were raped.
Although life in Dadaab is not easy, it’s safer than staying in a country wracked by conflict. WFP distributes food twice a month to registered refugees. Most of the Somalis construct fragile structures out of twigs and mud, covered by pieces of plastic.
Ration cards for food
The priority for everyone is to start rebuilding not just their homes, but their lives. Muhamadine Farah, who fled Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, hopes that her husband will be able to find his way to her and join her in the refugee camp. Her family has been split apart. She believes her husband must still be somewhere in Somalia, trying to reach Kenya.
She is thankful that at least she and her children reached Dadaab. “I feel safe here,” she says. “I’ve found other Somali refugees. I want to get my ration cards for food. I want to get my place to live in. The second thing is to send my children to school.”
Refugees here depend on aid agencies to provide all of their needs. But at the end of December, WFP will face a break in food supplies. It needs more funds to help the increasing number of refugees who continue to make their way across the border. On average four thousand refugees a month are making their way to Dadaab.