Cablegate: U/S Otero Urges for More Educational Opportunties And

DE RUEHNR #0262/01 0400649
R 090647Z FEB 10



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: U/S Otero Urges for More Educational Opportunties and
Security in Dadaab


1. (SBU) Summary: Under Secretary Maria Otero visited the
Dadaab refugee camp as part of her January 25-28 visit to Kenya.
The need to improve educational opportunities for refugee children
and to respond to the security threats of refugee women -
particularly as they search for firewood - were gaps in services
noted by the U/S. The U/S also reiterated to refugee leaders and
NGO representatives our commitment to remain a key donor to refugee
operations in Dadaab, to continue advocating with Government of
Kenya officials for additional land to relieve overcrowding in
Dadaab, and to persist in our efforts to find a solution to the
conflict in Somalia so refugees can return home safely. End

2. (U) Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global
Affairs Maria Otero, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Deputy Assistant Secretary Daniel Baer, Special Advisor to the
Office of the Under Secretary Nicole Goldin, and the U/S' Personal
Assistant Caroline Mauldin visited the Dadaab Refugee Camp on
January 27. The delegation was accompanied to Dadaab by Embassy
Nairobi Deputy Chief of Mission Lee Brudvig, Kenya US Liaison Chief
Colonel David McNevin and post's Refugee Coordinator. The
delegation was briefed by UNHCR-Dadaab Officer in Charge Fortunata
Ngonyani and UNHCR's External Relations Officer Andy Needham. The
delegation observed newly arriving refugees being registered at
UNHCR's Registration Center in Dagahaley camp, toured a primary
school and WFP warehouse and food distribution center in Ifo camp,
and met with refugee leaders and representatives of NGOs operating
in Dadaab.

3. (U) UNHCR reported that more than 200 new refugees per day
were seeking entry to the camps. Although less than half the new
arrivals who sought entry in January 2009, UNHCR staff noted there
has been a steady increase of new arrivals since December. UNHCR
expected that new arrivals in January would reach about 4,000
(Reftel reported 2,730 new arrivals between 1 -24 January) with the
overwhelming number of new arrivals reporting they left Somalia due
to violence. UNHCR confirmed that all new arrivals were registered
and provided a food ration card, but only those with an assessed
protection need were accorded space to establish a shelter within
an existing camp. Despite UNHCR's just-completed verification
exercise lowering the overall camp population from an estimated
300,000 to 260,443, UNHCR said they still didn't have sufficient
space to house the new arrivals or to relieve severe overcrowding.
UNHCR said additional land for a fourth camp was still urgently

4. (U) The Horseed Primary School in Ifo camp managed by
CARE, was hot, overcrowded and in desperate need of additional
resources. CARE's Education Coordinator, Musa Dahir, reported that
the Horseed Primary School had 3,293 students (1,305 girls and
1,898 boys) in grades 1-5 attending school in two shifts. He
confirmed a teacher-pupil ratio of one to more than 100, and that,
if available, up to seven students shared one desk. The ten
classrooms in the primary school had open unscreened windows, no
doors and were unprotected from the noise of neighboring
classrooms. Despite the fact that most teachers were not properly
trained and the school lacked textbooks and basic school supplies
such as chalk, many refugee parents remained eager to send their
children to school, but couldn't due to a lack of space (Note:
During the visit a Swahili language class was being conducted
outside under the shade of a tree for about 35 children, one of
several trees identified as being used as classrooms. End Note).
WFP supports a school feeding program to ensure that students
received at least one nutritious meal per day and to encourage the
participation of girls (Note: about 40 per cent of the children in
Horseed School are girls. End Note). UNHCR estimates that less than
half of the children in Dadaab participate in organized primary or
secondary education.

5. (U) Although the delegation did not observe a food
distribution, they were able to observe the food warehouses and
walk through the Ifo food distribution center. WFP confirmed that,
in anticipation of el Nino rains, it had recently upgraded its
Dadaab facilities and had pre-positioned or has received
commitments for sufficient food stocks to feed the current Dadaab
population through July. WFP noted that new arrivals are arriving

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in worse condition then previous new arrivals and that the Global
Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates ranged between 12 and 13.6 percent
(Note: UNHCR has as a 2010 goal to reduce the GAM to 8 percent. End

6. (SBU) The U/S met with the refugee-elected Chairman and
Chairlady from each camp (except Lagadera which was only
represented by the Chairman). The refugee leaders, who were all
concluding their tenures as refugee leaders this year and who were
surprisingly well-versed in UNHCR's funding situation, stressed
their concern that refugee services were being compromised as new
refugees continued to arrive and UNHCR had not budgeted for a
rapidly increasing population. Leaders also highlighted their
concern about the number of children unable to attend school and
requested scholarships for secondary students. Saying they are
tired of being in the camp yet can't return home, the leaders asked
that they be included in conferences and other efforts to find a
solution to the Somalia crisis. The U/S underscored the USG's
commitment to remain a significant donor to refugee programs as
long as the refugees stayed in the camps, to continue advocating
for more space to relieve overcrowding in Dadaab, and to continue
its efforts to resolve the conflict in Somalia so the refugees can
return home safely. Reflecting the leader's concerns about the
deplorable state of education in the camps, the U/S highlighted her
desire to see expanded and improved educational opportunities for
refugee children. In response to the U/S' concern for the safety
of refugee women as they collect firewood and her suggestion that
men should also search for wood, the chairlady of Dagahaley camp
said selling firewood was one of the few ways for refugees to make
money to meet their other needs and underscored the depth of the
security problem by saying "if the women search for wood they will
be raped, but if the men search for wood, they will be killed."
Our contacts also reported substantial friction between the local
Kenyan population and refugees, who many of the resident population
view as receiving preferential treatment. Camp authorities have
sought to address this through community outreach and assistance

7. (SBU) Representatives of seven NGOs operating in Dadaab
highlighted the breath of the challenges in Dadaab by citing
problems ranging from disposing the 300 metric tons of solid waste
the camps produce each day to introducing family planning to a
resistant population. CARE, lead NGO for water delivery, said it
urgently needed to replace the 22 ageing boreholes serving Dadaab
as six were expected to collapse within the next two to six months
and four new boreholes were needed to meet the minimum
international standards for water availability per refugee per day.
Representatives of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and FilmAid
both attested to growing security threats: NRC reported restricting
international staff to the UNHCR compound due to kidnapping threats
against international aid workers and hearing rumors of armed
groups in the camps, while FilmAid said its staff have experienced
an increased intolerance from the refugees to the health and other
messages it delivers in the camps. The German Technical
Cooperation (GTZ) reported that the camp birth rate is between
300-400 children each month and is unlikely to diminish as Somalis
are resistant to family planning messages. The U/S confirmed that
the USG will continue to press the GOK for additional space to
relieve severe overcrowding and that we will remain a committed
donor to refugee operations in Dadaab. The U/S also remarked that
the education of refugee children was insufficient and that
ensuring the security of refugee women - particularly as they
searched for firewood - had to be improved.

© Scoop Media

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