In Limbo: Dependency, Insecurity, and Identity amongst Somali Refugees in Dadaab Camps

Awa M. Abdi


The Somali civil war of 1991 left thousands of refugees scattered in neighbouring countries. This article examines the situation of the 130,000 Somalis in their second decade in Dadaab camps in Kenya, with a particular focus on the role and responsibilities of the refugee regime and the host state. It is argued that these camps are characterized by deprivations of both material and physical security. Research found that refugees’ dependency on inadequate aid is due to lack of alternative livelihoods rather than “dependency syndrome.” However, participants expressed diminished “self-esteem” resulting from their prolonged encampment. Finally, the paper presents a critique of the failure to explore solutions for protracted refugee situations on the part of the international refugee regime.

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