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August 12, 2011

Dadaab refugee camp

Brendan Bannon is a photojournalist on assignment for Polaris Images: "I first went to the Dadaab refugee camp, close to the border between Kenya and Somalia, at the end of 2006. Strangely enough, the camp was flooded then. The same parched ground recorded in my photographs was covered by 3 feet of water. Then, people were fleeing from the camp, not fleeing to the camp as they are today. Dadaab has become the largest refugee camp in the world, and Kenya’s fourth largest city: 440,000 people have gathered in makeshift shelters, made of branches and tarps. Experiencing Dadaab again last week was profoundly humbling. I was confronted with deep suffering and need. Slowing down and talking to people, I heard stories of indomitable courage and determination and of making horrible choices. Most of these people have survived 20 years of war in Somalia, two years of drought, and it’s only now that they are fleeing their homeland. They are accomplished survivors. One morning, I was talking to a family of ten. I poured a full glass of water from a pitcher and passed it to a child. He took a sip, and passed it on to his brother and so on. The last one returned it to me with enough left for the last gulp. Even in the camp, they take only what they need to survive and share the rest. What you see on the surface looks like extreme fragility, but it’s actually tremendous resilience and the extraordinary affirmation of their will to live." This post features a collection of Brendan's recent images from Dadaab refugee camp. They tell their own story. -- Paula Nelson (34 photos total)

A young Somali refugee boy and his terminally ill mother, Haretha Abdi at Dadaab refugee camp, near the border of Kenya and Somalia in the horn of Africa. (Brendan Bannon/Polaris Images)

Fresh graves in Dagahaley, part of the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp. Tens of thousands of Somali refugees have fled to Kenya. Many arrive in the refugee camp exhausted and malnourished after a perilous journey from drought and war torn Somalia. Hundreds have died in the camp as a consequence of malnutrition. #

Somali refugees in Dagahaley refugee camp carry their sick and malnourished children to a new feeding center run by Doctors Without Borders on the outskirts of the sprawling refugee camp in Kenya. #

A Somali refugee girl sits perched on a tree in Ifo camp. #

A young boy takes bone-thin cattle in search of pasture at the edge of Dagahaley refugee camp in Kenya. Many recently arrived Somali refugees have lost all of their animals to the ravishing effects of a prolonged drought in Somalia. #

Somali refugees wait in line at the reception center at Ifo camp. Refugees must first go to reception centers for health screening, immunization and finger printing. They will be given an appointment to be registered as refugees. #

Somali refugees line up at the reception center in Dagahaley camp. After a long journey, often by foot through perilous territory with little food and water, refugees go through a registration process that includes medical screening and a 21-day ration of food. Thirteen hundred refugees arrive daily at the three camp complexes. #

A Somali refugee woman drags parched branches of a tree to use in constructing a shelter on the outskirts of Ifo camp in Dadaab, Kenya. The UNHCR camp is the largest refugee camp in the world. Tens of thousands have arrived in a steady exodus from Somalia's drought and civil war. #

A refugee uses twigs and scraps of material to build a shelter for her family. There is no room for most new arrivals in the Dadaab camps, so the thousands of people who arrive every week must carve out a place for themselves in the surrounding desert. Doctors Without Borders estimates that by the end of 2011 there will be 500,000 people living in and around the camps, which were originally built to accommodate 90,000. #

A group of Somali refugees travel back to the area where they are staying on the far outskirts of Dagahaley camp, near Dadaab, Kenya. #

A Somali mother enters the hospital ward for severely malnourished children in Ifo camp near Dadaab, Kenya. #

Fatuma Badel fled Buale, Somalia with 8 children after leaving her sick husband. "He became sick and I couldn't carry him. I don't know if he is alive or dead. This one, my youngest child was like a dead person when I arrived. Now I thank God I can hear him cry again." Badel has spent 3 days in the Doctors Without Borders hospital with her baby, Mohamud, who arrived severely malnourished. #

A young Somali boy and his nomadic family fled Bardere, Somalia to Kenya in May 2011 because of hunger, drought and war. They traveled 32 days by foot and donkey cart relying on the kindness of people along the way for food and water. #

A severely malnourished child in the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Dagahaley refugee camp. Malnutrition rates have skyrocketed in the camp since the crisis began earlier this year. #

Doctors Without Borders pediatrician Luana Lima checks on patients at the aid group's hospital in Dagahaley refugee camp. #

Daud Ali, a severely malnourished child at a Doctors Without Borders' therapeutic feeding center in Dagahaley camp. #

UNHCR protection officer, Mehreen Afzal, expedites registration for Qatmo Lidow Hussien, a handicapped refugee frrom Hagar, Somalia who arrived at the reception center in a wheelbarrow with her family. #

Twenty year old Abdi Hassan, a nomadic camel herder was beaten to a point of paralysis by al-Shabaab soldiers when he refused to allow them to take some of his camels as a tax. He fled Salagale by road with his wife and other relatives to Ifo Camp. He has been in the hospital since arriving in Kenya. #

Asli Adow Ali is the two-year-old daughter of Adow Ali from Salagale, Somali. The family arrived in Ifo in early July and Asli was admitted 27 days later. She is severely malnourished and receiving therapeutic feeding at the GIZ run hospital in Ifo camp. #

Mariam Mohamud, 30, gave birth to a baby girl during the night. Mariam wrapped her child in a red cloth and holds her at a health-screening center run by Doctors Without Borders in Dagahaley refugee camp. #

Patients are ferried in an impromptu ambulance en route to the Doctors Without Borders hospital. Measles and malnutrition are growing problems in the overcrowded Kenyan camp near the Somali border. #

A Somali refugee woman cradles her baby after dousing her elder daughter with water to keep cool under the sweltering sun. #

A father cradles his severely malnourished child on a bus provided by UNHCR and IOM to move a group of stranded and vulnerable refugees from Hamey, Kenya. Most refugees make the journey from the border to the camps by foot at great peril. The roads are lined with bandits and many women report being raped during the trek. #

Refugees wait at a reception center immediately after arriving from Somalia. The registration process, which is key for refugees to get a regular, predictable and adequate supply of food, has become backlogged forcing many to wait two months to be formally recognized. #

Malaboy, 26, cradles her severely malnourished baby, Mahad, 2. The family arrived in June after fleeing drought and war in Baidabo, Bay region, Somalia. The journey took them 20 days. During their journey, they were set upon by bandits who beat the adults. Mahad was later admitted to a therapeutic feeding center. #

Somali children play in a field next to an open-air madrasa at Ifo extension, a part of a complex of three camps surrounding Dadaab, Kenya. #

UNHCR prepares tents for refugee families that will be transferred from self-settled areas around Ifo camp to a more formally organized settlement in Ifo extension where there is better access to water, sanitation and security. #

Two Somali refugee girls run through a dust storm on the outskirts of Ifo settlement. #

Young girls and women wait to collect water from a water point at Ifo extension. UNHCR began moving families from the self-settled areas at the outskirts of the camp to Ifo extension in July 2011. #

Young girls and women wait to collect water from a water point at Ifo extension. UNHCR is settling approximately 300 families per day at Ifo extension as of the end of July. #

A Somali girl collects water for her family in the desert at the edge of Ifo camp. These settlements are unlit and lack security. The duty of fetching water culturally falls to girls. They are at risk of being attacked and raped. #

Somali refugees dig the grave of Ibrahim Issack, a six-year-old child who died of complications of severe malnutrition a month after arriving in the camp, according to his uncle Hassan Issack. "We fled Buaale and traveled for 21 days by foot. It was very tiresome. we walked through drought with no food and little water. Along the way we were robbed and women were raped." #

A neighbor digs the grave of Raba Hassan, a 35-year-old refugee from Somalia. Hassan arrived two months ago after a 290 km journey from Sakow, Somalia. Her five children survive her. #

A severely malnourished child in Dagahaley. Hundreds of Somali refugees are arriving each day having fled drought, famine and civil war in Somalia. #