UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday visited the sprawling Dadaab refugee complex and praised the resilience of more than 350,000 Somali refugees there while expressing sympathy for their suffering.

“This is a tragedy – a man-made tragedy. If leaders had listened more to the aspirations of their people, we would not be here,” he told refugees in Dadaab’s Ifo 2 camp on Thursday. He added that although refugees in the camps were facing great challenges, it was encouraging to see how they had organized themselves, established democratic structures and provided community based security.

Ban Ki-moon was himself internally displaced during the 1950-53 Korean War, while the parents of World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, who accompanied the UN chief, were refugees. “There is nothing like being out of your country, not being able to move,” he said, before pledging World Bank support to get Somalia back on the development track.

Representatives of the refugee community expressed their concerns for the future, restriction of movement and security in the camps. A member of the local Kenyan community told the delegation about the burdens faced by hosting such a large number of refugees for more than 20 years.

Ban Ki-moon and Jim Yong Kim also toured the camp to get a better understanding of the harsh living conditions in the arid area. They visited a hospital, including a maternity ward and a nutrition stabilization centre.

Source: UNHCR

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