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GIS map highlights plight of Somali refugees

Sudan: A GIS-based mapping, commissioned by International Organization for Migration (IOM), revealed that 85 percent of drought-affected Somali refugees and host pastoralist communities are using nearly 1,230 kilometres of unofficial border routes to reach help at Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp. The map highlighted the intensity of dangers they face during this escape.

According to IOM’s press statement, the aim of the assessment using the GIS mapping technique was to identify the routes taken by refugees and pastoralist communities to reach Dadaab, located 100 kilometres inside the eastern Kenya/Somali border. Carried out in late September, the assessment also aimed to identify measures needed to counteract the rape, theft, extortion and sometimes death faced by the refugees and pastoralist communities due to dehydration and lack of medical attention along the route.

According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), about 152,000 Somali refugees have fled to Dadaab since January this year. Only 10 per cent or 120 kilometres of official routes – which lie along the main road from Harar to Garissa – was being used by the refugees to reach Dadaab.

However, both unofficial and official routes lacked requisite water provisions, medical facilities, rest points or security monitoring centres, leaving refugees and pastoralists at the mercy of unscrupulous guides who extort large sums of money to provide navigation services.

The IOM assessment recommends establishing mobile water points, particularly along official tracks, to address the dehydration suffered by the refugees and pastoralists. In addition, it recommends active and passive disease surveillance during and after the migration process to curb the spread of disease amongst accompanying livestock. To address the rape and extortion of refugees, the report recommends the establishment of a police task force in partnership with host communities along the pastoralist migratory routes.

Source: IOM