July 23, 2011 — -- Every day hundreds of refugees arrive at the Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya after walking for weeks through the desolate terrain to escape drought and famine in Somalia.
The crisis has been brought on by a deadly combination of severe drought, with no rain in the region for two years, a huge spike in food prices and a brutal civil war in Somalia.
It is too dangerous for international humanitarian aid workers to reach the almost 3 million people in need because of the insecurity and demands by Al-Shabaab, the al Qaeda affiliated terrorist organization that until recently had banned aid workers from operating in the region.
Somalis have no choice but to flee to neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.
But even at Dadaab, the world's largest refugee settlement comprised of three separate camps and now home to almost 400,000 Somalis, there is not enough space or supplies to meet the growing demand.
More than 1,300 refugees arrive at the camp every day, but workers do not have the means to provide everyone with the help they so desperately need, leaving many refugees waiting at the complex's gates.
There are only seven ambulance drivers for the 122,000 people sprawling across one of the three camps. They have no medical equipment or paramedics. The ambulances don't even have a siren to put on as they race to find the sick.
The complex is so vast and the tents are so spread out that even when the ambulances get a call about a woman in labor, it's usually too difficult to find her.
A growing number of women are being sexually assaulted on their long walk to the camps. Many will not talk about it because they are too ashamed.
It is the job of Sinead Murrey, the gender-based violence program manager of the Inyernational Red Cross, to lend these women a comforting ear.
"I think the challenges in Dadaab, it's such a complex environment even before the influx and now with the increase in volume, especially female head of households and large numbers of women and girls who have most likely experienced violence on the way ... is ... a massive challenge," Murrey said.
When asked why she takes on such a massive challenge, Murrey replied, "At a personal level? I am passionate about it."