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.