Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Pointless trip to Ethiopia

Week 3

Arriving in Addis Ababa after a 3:30am flight from Nairobi, I spent the whole day with no sleep and a massive headache trying to figure out where the hell I was. That morning I decided to take a taxi through the city and find myself a coach/bus to Dolo South Ethiopia near the Somali border.

This was tougher than I imagined it to be. 1st of all English isn't taught in Ethiopia so the language and communication barrier wasn't easy. Finally got a bus that went in that direction and took it. Ever green land flows for miles and miles with small, quant villages along the way. People living with nothing and just the basics it was clear that these people were happy with just a few chickens, cows, goatsa and a mud hut.

Roads in this part of the world are non existent. Rocky 4x4 terrain stretches for miles and miles. Feeling every bump on the road, it was tough to get any sleep. 12 hours later stopped off in a tiny poor village, of Shashamene, pitch black searching for a room to stay the night. Cold water shower the only option available I took it and survived. 5 hours sleep I set off again to the next town of Neleborana, 6 hours drive and final destination for my bus driver. Found myself another hotel/room for the night.

Next morning I was determined to find some form of transport to Dolo odo. Speaking to the correct people in the market I was so so lucky to stumble across a (WFP) World Food Program Truck carrying 400 tons of maze, flour, wheat and life saving foods for refugees in Dolo odo, Somalia. Sleeping for a few hours we arrived in Dolo. 930 km, 3 days and hardly any sleep. I spent two days in Dolo trying to find different views and pictures documenting the Horn of Africa Drought Crisis and enjoyed a Ethiopian new year (2005) and a day resting in the sun. Pictures I found out were tough to get because, government officals would follow you and ask you not to photograph what the world needed to see. Walking through the camps it was no different than Dadaab, Kenya so it felt a bit pointless to send in the same set of pictures. I then decided that their was no point me getting poor images, so I headed back to the capital Addis Ababa by flight.

Luckly on my arrival, I was offered a feature story for the Daily Nation Newspaper in Nairobi and booked the next flight to back to Kenya.  Sorry pictures next week folks.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Lost town of Liboi Kenya's border with Somalia

Week 2

Following up on last weeks post, I decided take a trip to the Somali, Kenyan Border near the town of Liboi. Then continued focusing on different ethnic comunities living in IFO refugee camp and the town of Liboi. 

Drought stricken land is filled with carcass bones near the border between Somalia and Kenya. Liboi town is the first border crossing point for Somali refugees traveling to Dadaab. A newly introduced bus service, is implemented to transport refugees from the border to Dadaab Refugee Camp. After walking for 20 days, families wait for busses in the scorching heat with no food over night. 

As drought, famine and war ravage the Horn of Africa, nearly 29,000 children aged below five have already died. Even as it battles the worst drought in 60 years, Somalia can barely lick the wounds inflicted by civil strife, which has plagued the beleaguered nation for two decades. Impoverished refugees fleeing the country to aid camps in Kenya have to face the wrath of Al Qaeda-backed Shebab militia on the poorly policed border between the countries. 

The crisis, which the United Nations declared as more serious than the 1984 Ethiopia famine that claimed nearly a million lives, now threatens to spread to Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti. Dadaab hosts people that have fled various conflicts in the larger Eastern Africa region. Most have come as a consequence of the civil war in southern Somalia, including both Somalis and members of Somalia's various ethnic minority groups such as the Bantu.

My trip takes a detour via the city of Adis Ababa, Ethoipia where I will be traveling to Dolo Ado. Dolo Ado is situated on the Somali, Ethopian border.  The first two camps, Bokolmanyo and Malkadida, were opened in 2009 and 2010 to host Somalis fleeing the conflict in the south central region of Somalia. Kobe and Hilaweyn have been established more recently to cope with the extraordinary influx of Somali refugees caused by the drought and exacerbated by the ongoing civil war.

In July, an average of 1900 people were reaching Dolo Ado on a daily basis. The camps now host about 121,000 people, the majority of whom (80,000) have arrived in 2011 as a result of two consecutive failed rainy seasons that have caused one of the worse droughts since the early 1950s.  

Monday, 29 August 2011

Covering the drought stricken land of Dadaab Refugee Camps.

Week 1

Dadaab is located approximately 100 kilometers from the Kenya-Somalia border. The nearest major town is Garissa, which is the headquarters of the North Eastern Province. Dadaab features a UNHCR base that serves refugee camps around the town, they are split up into three main centres called Hagadera, Ifo and Dagahaley. Dadaab hosts people that have fled various conflicts in the larger Eastern Africa region. Most have come as a consequence of the civil war in southern Somalia. Dadaab hosts a very growing number of people and statistics say 440 000 people are currently living in the overcrowded camps. 

My first few days were extremely interesting photographing how the camps run and how the refugees get food, aid and shelter very quickly. Interpreters were the only way forward, for communication, logistics and access to different sections around the site. 

The World Food Program (WFP) are based at every camp in Dadaab, handing out maze meal, cooking oil, flower, corn and other various staple diet nutrients to families. Hospitals and health clinics are spread around helping with severe malnutrition. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), International Rescue Committee (IRC) and The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) are the three main hospitals serving the desperate communities with problems such as TB, skin diseases, handicapped children, HIV, and other life threatening illnesses. 

Visting all these hospitals, showed me how the crisis is worsening by the day and how thousands of refugees are traveling in from there villages in Somalia. Barefooted, these children walk for hundreds of miles to receive help from aid agencies, sick tired and very hungry, many children and elderly people don't make it to Dadaab.

During this week, I had the opportunity to photograph the Crown Princess of Denmark who came to experience for herself what the Somali people are going through. 

(EDITORS NOTE: Image contains graphic content.) 

All Pictures Copyright: ZED JAMESON

Flight to Dadaab Refugee Camp.

Day 3

Woke up early as usual to find my taxi driver waiting for me outside my hostel. My flight left at 9:30 from ALS Wilson Airport. I planned to get to the airport an hour before.... a little bit too early as I forgot how slow Kenya's airport systems worked.

Had lunch and then departed for Dadaab. The heat was exhaustingly humid, as you depart from the plane. From the flight you can barely see the whole camp but on the ground you are able to sense the amount of people coming in from Somalia.

Listing things that needed to be photographed, I found myself alone with no media around. Past photographers and journalists had left a day or two before, due to the Libya conflict rising in Tripoli.

Deciding to stay a few weeks, I settled in at the UNHCR compound and soon made friends with people who had been their for years. Updating my blog weekly from now because of internet and electricity availability.

Wish I owned one of theses charter airplanes myself or a camel at least. Dust and sand blows from the roads of Dadaab, as I boy crosses.


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Children of Kibera slums

Day 2

The night before, I was up all night researching on the largest slum in Nairobi, and found a popular destination to photograph in an over populated town of Kibera. 

I walked down to security at my hostel and asked if I could hire one of them for the day. Coincidentally to find out that my security was from the region, I was happy to meet with him in the morning.

Bright and early....again, I got in a taxi and drove down to Kibera, photographing the conditions and how the children cope,  no clean drinking water, no electricity, no roads, it was outstanding how these people survive on a day to day bases. The families and children were so welcoming with three basic words of  "How are you , How are you , How are you". They can spot tourists from miles away. 

Underprivileged children roam the streets of Kibera which is located in southwestern part of Nairobi, roughly 5 kilometres from the city centre.

Kibera is the largest slum in Nairobi, and the second largest urban slum in Africa. 
The neighbourhood is divided into a number of villages. 

Conditions in Kibera are extremely poor, and most of its residents lack access to basic services. Most education centres in Kibera are classified as informal. Some start as baby-care centres, which later develop into schools. 

Friday, 19 August 2011

Life In Nairobi, Kenya

Day 1.

Woke up bright an early at 6am to receive breakfast in the YMCA International Youth Hostel, Nairobi.

Had a shower and headed out to run a few errands concerning Dadaab and the UNHCR. Got dropped of in Nairobi's Central Business District to find a buzz of market stalls, cafe's and street tourist gatherers trying to lour people into buying souvenirs. Gifts, such as beaded African necklace's and everything Kenyan you can find.

I walked through the town to find a private but small African market shop where the shop owner collects African crafts from three different countries including Sudan, Ethiopia and all around Kenya. I photographed and came back with a few images to send in.

I decided to take an hours walk up to my hostel to find a few street children on a bridge overlooking the city. You could smell, see and hear that they were homeless. I photographed them and they were happy for there picture to be taken.

Got back safely and filed. Top 5 are pictured below. Enjoy NB: Just warming up.....


Friday, 5 August 2011

Horn of Africa Food and Drought Crisis

This Crisis in the Horn of Africa is worsening by the day.

Bleached by the sun, blasted by two decades of constant conflict and now infested with hard-line Islamic extremists, Mogadishu is a hostile place. Often described as a failed state, the Horn of Africa nation and its people have endured an endless cycle of war, famine, invasion, disunity, and friction, only to now find itself the unenviable propagating ground for radical, religious fundamentalists.

Controlling less than one third of the capital city, a transitional federal government barely functions behind the protection of some 6,500 African Union peacekeepers. Daily attacks from the insurgents, often drawing retaliatory fire from their heavy weaponry, has seen many of Mogadishu's residents flee to sprawling camps on the outskirts of the city or further afield to neighbouring countries.

In areas of Mogadishu under the control of Al Shabaab andHizb al Islam, the Islamic groups who claim an allegiance toAl Qaeda and seek to overthrow the TFG and expel the African Union force, a deterioration in civil liberties, traditional Somali culture and society and the most basics of freedoms has seen life becoming increasingly regressive and brutal for those who disobey. From a once devout yet secular and tolerant Muslim society, the militants have gradually Talibanised areas under their control imposing draconian and oppressive laws on to the Somali people, banning music, the playing of video games and watching sports or movies. Punishment for failing to comply is both vicious and swift; public stonings, beheadings and the forced amputations of limbs await those deemed to be un-Islamic.

Suicide attacks and road side bombs show an increasing sophistication and influence from the many hundreds of battle-experienced foreign jihadists who have flocked to Somalia from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen to fight. With the extremists and their radical ideology threatening the East African region and beyond, the poorly funded yet determined AU force holds the line in their support of the TFG in an effort to stop Somalia being engulfed completely.