Hungry Somali refugees fast for Ramadan

Newly arrived Somali refugees at camps in northeastern Kenya's Dadaab begin fasting for Islam's holy month of Ramadan, having fled famine in their homeland.

August 2, 2011 16:39
1 minute read.
Somali refugees fast for Ramadan.

somali hunger_311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Lines of hungry refugees on Monday formed outside one of the main refugee camps in the Dadaab area of northeastern Kenya, waiting to be registered.

As Islam's holy month of Ramadan gets underway, the processing of these mostly Somali refugees seems to have slowed.

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While young children, the sick and elderly, as well as pregnant women are not expected to fast, many said they would despite already being hungry.

"We were already fasting before Ramadan because of the famine, we have no food. I am fasting, and I will continue fasting," said Somali famine refugee Ambiya Hassanow.

Aid agency workers at one refugee camp said they were seeing close to 2,000 new arrivals each day in the Dadaab area.

And some refugees say the famine spreading across parts of southern Somalia means more are on their way.

"There is no life in Somalia, even the ones we had left with our little cattle have just arrived - they walked for seven days. Clearly nothing remains for us there, that is why they have come here as well. I don't think anyone will remain there - day by day, everyone who has the strength is coming," said another Somali famine refugee Abdulahi Aden.

Despite the patience of those lining up to register, frustration is beginning to mount.

Somali famine refugee and United Nations High Commission for Refugees Registration team member Mohammed Yusuf Hassan said, "You can imagine someone who has travelled by foot from Somalia for almost 20 days, 30 days in search of food and water who came to this camp for help, they are still waiting for registration. You can see it's very hard for them to even fast during this holy month to fast which is a must for each and every Muslim to fast. I think they have more challenges in the camps."

While rain recently fell in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, drought-induced famine is likely to continue in parts of the country, possibly for months to come.

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