Dadaab, the world’s biggest refugee camp

Desperation reigns amid the 380,000 refugees in Dadaab, a sprawling “tent city” in northeastern Kenya.


Africa’s biggest refugee camp is home to more than 250,000 people who have fled the ongoing conflict in Somalia

I am tying my shoelaces when the early morning call to prayer begins to sound over the scratchy loudspeakers at the neighbourhood mosque.

It’s an early start from Garissa; we need to get to Dadaab and get cracking with our coverage.

And so, just as light begins to streak through the night sky, I gingerly slide myself into the rented Land Cruiser. I am asked if my room was fitted with a mosquito net to prevent contracting malaria from the blood sucker buzzing about.

“No … and I was eaten alive last night … so wait, does that now mean I have malaria?” my voice begins to crackle in mild trepidation.

“Nah – you are on the medication, so you should be fine … or … well, you will know either way in two weeks,” is the collective reply.

Two weeks to malaria, then.

I look out the window and watch the sun rise slowly over the prairie.

The road from Garissa to Dadaab resembles a wide, dry river bed. The road has been so beat up, it feels as though you’re driving in a shallow bowl flanked by river banks and layered in different textures of sand – from the rock-hard to the soft desert grains – giving the easily distracted more than one reason to drift.

This is not a safari

Outside my window, two tall giraffes strike up dust as they glide with elegant nonchalance through the rough, drought-resistant vegetation beside us. Moments later, we slow down and allow a herd of camels ambling through the sandy motorway to pass, but as we motor our way further across the bumpy road, a tiny deer hops across the road, forcing our Toyota to grind to a momentary halt. I remind myself that we are not in a game park and this is not a safari. Thousands of people have trekked across the wild for days hiding from militia and police by day and hyenas by night, to escape the insecurity of violence and famine in nearby Somalia.

1 reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.