UNICEF is increasing its operations in the Dadaab camps, as new refugees arrive at a rate of 1,300 a day.

Eighty percent of the new refugees are women and children. Reports of children dying along the way from Somalia or as they arrive at the camps are disturbingly common.

UNICEF is also working to establish an emergency food centre in the border community of Liboi, 100km away from the camps at Dadaab.

"Many Somali families don't realise have to walk another 100km to get to Dadaab," says Olivia Yambi, UNICEF Kenya Representative. “The health of some children crossing Liboi is so precarious that they simply cannot wait until they get to Dadaab for treatment."

The positioning of health and nutritional supplies close to the border will save children’s lives that might otherwise have been lost on the long journey to Dadaab.

The total population of the three camps near Dadaab is now more than 400,000, making it unofficially the third largest city in Kenya.

 
Eight-year-old Halima Osman (second from right) stands with her siblings and her mother in the Dagahaley refugee camp in North Eastern Province, near the Kenya-Somalia border. © UNICEF 2011/Kate Holt
Eight-year-old Halima Osman (second from right) stands with her siblings and her mother in the Dagahaley refugee camp in North Eastern Province, near the Kenya-Somalia border.© UNICEF 2011/Kate Holt