Friday, August 31, 2012

Where Are The Men of Dadaab? Blog 1

Blog 1
31 Aug 12

Where are the men of Dadaab?
Azad Essa Last Modified 21 Jul 2011

Many of the families from southern and central Somalia have been forced to leave their home and travel to Dadaab, a refugee complex in Kenya. These farmers have been experiencing a drought for more than four years. The extensive drought coupled with the al-Shabaab’s ban on aid agencies assisting farmers has made living in Somalia unpractical. This social problem has completely destroyed  the Somalian way of life. With a lack of water and no aid farmers are losing their cattle, and a loss of cattle means a loss of income. Unfortunately this is not the only thing these families are losing.

At the Dadaab refugee complex there is a notable difference between the amount of men and women there. Of all the refugees approximately 80% are women. The males that are there are either young boys or elderly men. When the women of Dadaab are asked about this phenomenon the replies refer back to the men wanting to save as many cattle as they can. Cattle for these pastoral farmers mean wealth and assets. These men are known to separate from their families for an extended amount of time to attempt to keep their cattle alive. However, Jane Alice Okello, a senior protection officer with the UNHCR offers another reason why some of these young men may be missing. She suggests that some of these young men especially those coming from Lower Juba, were abducted by al-Shabaab. In other situations family members feared their son may get abducted on the journey to Dadaab and decided it would be best to leave them at home.

This belief is not fool hearted. In a new report called In the line of fire, the group says that, since 2006, there has been a massive drive in Somalia to recruit young boys, mostly between the ages of 12 and 18, to fight in the country's civil war. AI alleges that both the militant groups and the Somali army are guilty of recruiting child soldiers. 

The absence of men among the newly arrivals at Dadaab allows for opportunities for the women and children to experience abuse. According to UNICEF there have been more than 350 incidents of sexual and gender based violence reported at Dadaab in a six month period, compared to the year prior with on 75 reported incidents.

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