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After losing everything, leaving home and traveling a great distance for help, Halima and her children must wait in a temporary transit center due to severe overcrowding in refugee camps. Nearly 10,000 new refugees are waiting to enter the camps. Save the Children’s David Klauber shares his compelling stories about a family he is working with at our center for hungry girls and boys in drought-stricken East Africa.
Today, I visited the Dollo Ado Transition Center at the Somalia-Ethiopia border. Nearly 10,000 newly-arrived refugees wait to be transported to the camps.
Ideally, refugees would pass through this site in just a few days but the unfortunate reality is that it is taking as long as 10 to 15 days. Transport has slowed because the three existing camps are already at full capacity. The third camp, Kobe, opened less than four weeks ago, already holds 25,000 people and cannot take anymore. As a result the population at the transit center continues to swell by day and the need for the most basic of services (food, medical attention, shelter) is increasing exponentially.
I sat down to meet a 28-year-old mother named Halima, surrounded by her five small children who were quite busy eating their porridge. The littlest one watched me curiously from upon Halima’s lap, nestled in the cloth of her dirac (long Somali dress). As she helped her son navigate his spoon she began to tell me her story:
"We lived in a place called Halu in the Dedo region of Somalia. The long drought caused all of our animals to die there. We didn’t have enough food to go around, and there was also violence going on around our home, so I feared for my children. Together we walked more than 55 miles, and I was scared for my children the whole journey.
"When we came here, we lived for 10 days in the pre-registration center, where we experienced a lot of hunger. Now we live here in the transit center, but here we have something to eat.
"We have no hope of going back home. We have nothing."
After our somber interview came to a close I found the quiet gaze of Halima’s 8 year-old son, Hassan Nuur, and I could not help but ask about his experience living in the refugee intake centers thus far. He told me: "Things are better here. At home there was no rain and no food. But now I miss my friends. Sometimes there is nothing here to do during the day, and it is cold and windy at night. I miss my home. I just want to move ahead."
How You Can Help Children in the Horn of Africa
A dollar a day for 100 days is enough to feed a hungry child like Hassan every day until the worst of the drought is over.