Challenges Facing Somali Women Refugees In Dadaab Refugee Camp, 1991-2016
Bashir, Ummi Kaltuma Mohamed
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The purpose of the study is to explore the challenges facing Somali women refugees in Dadaab refugee camp. It should be noted from the onset that women and children consist of over 80 percent of the total population of this world’s largest refugee camp and are perceived as the most vulnerable and marginalized group within the camp. Somali women refugee in Dadaab refugee camp who flee their homes in search of sanctuary from violence too often find that there is no meaningful refuge; they have simply escaped violence in conflict to face a different type of violence in the refugee camps. The study is an attempt to analyse the cause of Somali women refugees, the challenges that faces Somali women refugees and how they have coped with these challenges. The study tested three hypotheses: the first that the conflict in Somalia was the cause of Somali women refugees, the collapse of Said Barre government was cited as the main cause of Somali women refugees. Secondly Somali women refugees in Dadaab refugee camp are not protected by UNHCR, the UNHCR has been blamed for its inability to ensure that refugees are protected and their basic needs are met. And lastly Somali women refugees in Dadaab refugee camp engage in trade as a coping mechanism, the refugees have devised wide range of livelihood strategies to cope with the challenges faced at the camp, ranging from small businesses to dependence on remittances from relatives abroad. The study utilized both the primary and secondary sources of data. Secondary sources of data were collected from published and unpublished works, internet sources, reports from refugees’ agencies like UNHCR and the government of Kenya. Primary sources of data on the other hand was collected through the use of interviews from the camp managers, UNHCR and government officials, as well as from the refugees. Study findings revealed that Somali women refugees face a number challenges including lack of protection and basic need, security challenges, poor housing and sanitation, resource scarcity, and sexual harassment. It was established that Somali women refugees have devised mechanisms to deal with the challenges they face. Such strategies include, seeking international protection and migration, receiving humanitarian assistance, relying on social networks and solidarity, settlement in urban centers, engaging in trade and services. Other strategies include, religious and spiritual beliefs investing in education and skills training, engaging in commercial prostitution and assuming the role of a breadwinner due the absence of men in the camp. The study recommends that improving the welfare and protection of the refugees is critical to their future, including UNHCR and government to endeavour to make refugees self-sufficient rather than depending on the institutions.
University of Nairobi
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