Intensifying displacement flows will create uncertain future for children

Nairobi, Kenya:  As the world marks World Refugee Day, forced displacement flows due to the closure of the globe’s largest refugee camp, the growing impact of El Nino, and the Syrian crisis, are likely to intensify with especially harmful impacts on children, warns a leading international humanitarian agency.

World Vision says the forthcoming shuttering of the Kenya’s Dadaab camp will force 327,000 Somalis – 192,000 of them children – into an uncertain future. While the impact of one the worst El Ninos on record – currently affecting 60m people globally with drought, hunger, food shortages and livelihood destruction – has yet to peak. And in Syria an escalation of violence is driving thousands more out of their homes.

Francois Batalingaya, Director of Humanitarian Operations for World Vision warned:  “The pressures on very vulnerable people to migrate from extreme hardship and conflict are, if anything worsening. We urgently need to do much more to help refugees - and especially children – by courageously addressing the underlying causes that lead to mass movements of people. None of us want to see people - and particularly children - forced to make extremely hazardous and dangerous journeys to escape conflict, chaos and climate related conditions. ”

World Vision is calling for the rapid implementation by governments and humanitarian players of recent commitments made at the World Humanitarian Summit. These include doing much more to:

  • Ensure no child misses out on education by guaranteeing schooling for all - and funding it
  • Proactively find political solutions to prevent and end conflict, which drives 80% of humanitarian need globally
  • Permit refugees to work within host communities and provide business support so they can look after themselves and their families
  • Support countries prone to conflict, chaos and crises with long-term development programming and financing that bring lasting change at the local level.

The closure by November of the Dadaab camp – where World Vision runs food operations - exemplifies the challenges facing refugees the world over.  The camp is 24 years old. Tens of thousands of refugees were born there, cannot leave without special permission nor secure work permits, and have little or nothing to go back to in Somalia, which is insecure and has been affected by El Nino.  There is little secondary education available in the camp and primary education lacks quality teachers and resources.

Although the UN and INGOs will be helping refugees in their return to Somalia World Vision has heard that some are considering moving to other countries other than Somalia.

World Vision’s regional director for East Africa, Margaret Schuler, said: “The Kenyan government, like Middle Eastern governments responding to the Syrian refugee crisis, have been struggling to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of people in need.  It’s time for the world to accept the refugee challenge won’t go away. We must collectively do more to address the root causes driving displacement and ensure refugees are not marginalized, or left unproductive for years. Children must be given education. Adults must have work opportunities. These things restore dignity and reduce reliance on expensive and unsustainable aid hand-outs.”

Learn more about World Vision's response to the refugee crisis- click here.