Somali famine refugees face rape in Kenyan camps
Summary of story from Huffington Post, August 1, 2011
Somali famine refugee, Barwago Mohamud, has reached Kenya but not safety.
As she huddles silently beneath a few blankets stretched over sticks at night she fears for her life and the safety of her daughters after a neighbour was raped, and another woman kidnapped and gang-raped for three days in front of her terrified children.
Only a few hundred feet away stands a newly built camp with a police station, toilet blocks and schools but the Kenyan government is refusing to open the new Ifo 2 facility they claim the refugees flowing into the country are a security risk.
But the women and children who fled war and famine are now forced to build their shelters farther and farther away from the center, and safety of the camp.
The new centre would provide a refuge from the armed men who prowl the bush at night.
Some of the men may be deserters from Somali forces across the border; others are Kenyan bandits who rob and gang-rape the stream of refugees fleeing the famine in Somalia.
Research shows that women are often attacked when they leave their families to go to the bathroom or gather firewood.
When Mohamud’s three young daughters need to relieve themselves, she insists on going with them, and takes the only torch the nine women share between them. She has no shoes, so she walks barefoot over the thorny ground.
A reporter for The Associated Press drove around the newly constructed area in Dadaab and found rows of new toilet blocks standing amid the rows of empty lots, where women could more safely go to the bathroom and easily walk to police or medical services if they were attacked.
More than two weeks ago, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga visited Dadaab and said the Ifo 2 extension would open in ten days. On Saturday, Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua said that no decision had yet been reached.
In the meantime, the refugees keep coming as the hunger crisis worsens but there is nowhere for them to go. The camps are full to bursting, and medical staff are setting up tents to treat new arrivals.
Women and their children are being forced farther out, away from services and security. Aid agencies are appealing for more donations, unable to use the facilities they built.