For most Americans, Earth Day symbolizes the need to protect the natural environment – specifically clean air, clean water, and pristine rivers and forests. In the years following the first Earth Day in 1970, some of our nation’s most important environmental laws were adopted, including the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Toxic Substances Control Act. Actors like Meryl Streep also caught the attention of America’s mothers by bringing attention to pesticides in the food that we feed our children every day.
I have experienced many challenges living as a refugee in Nairobi for two years. The first challenge is security, which is not guaranteed. I live in Eastleigh, a small neighborhood that has become a Somali enclave. A series of explosions took place here after Kenyan troops entered Somalia.
This caused a reaction among Kenyans, who blamed Somali refugees. Although there is an increased police presence in the area, Somalis are afraid of the police because of the way that they behave towards them.
This post originally appeared at The Refugee.
When the Kenyan government announced in December last year that all Somali refugees living in cities must move to the Dadaab refugee camp, I made plans to visit that camp. I wanted to see the place that was already home to hundreds of thousands of Somalis, and where the government planned to pack in thousands more.
Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp is the largest of its kind in the world: a sprawling, jam-packed community housing nearly half a million vulnerable Somali refugees. During a visit this week to one section of the camp, known as Kambioos, my Refugees International colleague and I met a young Somali man named Ahmed who had just arrived by bus from Nairobi.
Since December, when the Government of Kenya announced that all city-dwelling refugees must move into camps, the situation for tens of thousands refugees has become unbearable. But the good news today is that the Kenyan High Court has granted a temporary order prohibiting the government from implementing its plans.
My colleague Melanie Teff and I have begun a two-week mission in Kenya to assess conditions for Somali refugees. Though we are both eager to get underway, I wish our mission was taking place under different circumstances.
This is an extremely difficult time to be a Somali in Kenya, with the government announcing last month that refugees in urban areas will have to leave the cities and report to refugee camps. The government has also shut down the registration of refugees in urban areas and instructed aid agencies to suspend urban refugee services.
View our photo report from last week's event!
On the evening of October 16th, Refugees International celebrated the 10th anniversary of our New York Circle. Each year since the Circle was founded by Peta Roubin and Natacha Weiss, guests have come together to show their enthusiasm and support for RI’s lifesaving advocacy. This year, friends and supporters joined RI at Unilever’s New York apartment on Columbus Circle on a beautiful autumn night.
Mogadishu is being revitalized. During the five days I spent in the Somali capital last week, I saw first-hand the city’s development and increasing vibrancy. New businesses are popping up around every corner, local markets are buzzing with commercial activity, and there are traffic jams on the streets again.
This post originally appeared at ThinkProgress Security.
Yesterday, I met with a man in Mogadishu whose business was the target of a suicide attack. Ahmed is a British-Somali who returned to the country in 2008 and went on to open up several popular restaurants. Last Thursday, two suicide bombers walked into one of those restaurants and killed 15 of Ahmed’s patrons and staff.