To begin with, newly arrived displaced Somalis in the camp in Dadaab, Kenya, have to live in tents. The camp is intended to shelter 90,000 people, but 260,000 are currently present there.
Photo: Carolina Grelsson/Svenska kyrkan
A more tolerable life in refugee camps
Carolina Grelsson, programme officer for humanitarian assistance within the Church of Sweden, says:
“Despite the dust, the burning sun and the boredom, people’s strength and ability to survive is what you see when you visit them.”
Since the late 1980s, more than one million people have been forced to flee Somalia as a result of civil war, droughts and famine. The lack of a functioning state and political instability caused by conflicts between different clans is still forcing a large number of displaced people to cross the borders into Kenya and Ethiopia.
“The number of displaced people is constantly increasing and there is no space for everyone in the camps,” Grelsson says. “There is a lack of food, water and other basic necessities. Inactivity is of course a huge problem – as a displaced person, you’re not allowed to work outside the camp.”
Better living conditions through participation
The contributions support the maintenance and development of the camps and concern water, safety, youth activities and receiving new displaced people.
“Through psychosocial support and sport and culture activities, young people are getting the chance to do something constructive,” Grelsson says. “This is one way of combating inactivity and the use of drugs, which otherwise spreads easily.”
Sida is contributing SEK 10.2 million to the efforts over two years, and the Church of Sweden donates SEK 1 million from the funds it raises. The project is managed by the Church of Sweden and The Lutheran World Federation in conjunction with the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) , among others.
“The best thing about the project is the co-operation with displaced people,” Grelsson says. “They’ve been able to organize themselves and through that become involved in running and looking after the camps. For example, the security has improved.”