As Muslims around the world mark Eid Al-Fitr, many Somali Muslims will not be able to participate due to the ongoing famine.
As Muslims across the world celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of the month of Ramadan, with feasts and the exchange of gifts, the scene is somewhat different in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp.
Set up 20 years ago to accommodate 90,000 people, the refugee complex situated on the Kenya-Somalia border now comprises three camps, spans 50km and ‘houses’ 440,000, mostly Somali, residents.
The original residents, who fled Somalia in 1991 as their country erupted into a bloody civil war, have been joined by hundreds of thousands fleeing the worst drought to hit the Horn of Africa in six decades. Many of the new arrivals are still suffering from malnutrition and malnourishment after enduring often long and arduous journeys from famine-stricken Somalia.
For the newcomers and more established residents alike, Eid in Dadaab is marked by little of the celebration witnessed elsewhere. Those who have best clothes to wear don them, neighbours greet each other with a little more enthusiasm and Islamic aid agencies do their best to make the day special for a select few, but it is hard to shake off the sense that the occasion remains overshadowed by the human failings and natural hardships that have shaped the lives of those who live here.
Al Jazeera’s Azad Essa and Riyaad Minty discover the humble spirit of Eid al-Fitr in Dadaab.
|1) More than 5,000 people attend the early morning Eid al-Fitr prayers in a dusty sports field in Dadaab’s Dagahaley camp. The mixed congregation – with men at the front and women at the back – brave the dry heat of the early morning sun as prayers consume the bulk of the celebrations [Azad Essa]|
|2) Fifty-six-year-old Gulid Ebrahim, who has been in Dadaab since 1992, says he has grown used to celebrating Eid in the camp: “It is like this every year, just every Eid, there are just more and more people” [Azad Essa]|
|3) Some pay special attention to their attire like this man listening intently to the sermon [Riyaad Minty]|
|4) Even on Eid, a sense of injustice and feelings of marginalisation and loneliness remain [Riyaad Minty]|
|5) Kenyan police keep guard as is the mandatory UN security requirement for all visiting delegations to the camp [Azad Essa]|
|6) An Islamic aid agency delivers an Eid gift to one of the families identified for the special handout [Azad Essa]|
|7) Children learn to read the Quran on these inscribed pieces of wood [Azad Essa]|
|8) A young boy tries his utmost to charm us into giving him an Eid gift, which usually consists of a small amount of money [Azad Essa]|
|9) Children sit in a queue waiting for their turn to receive a special hamper that promises to satisfy more than just hunger pangs [Riyaad Minty]|
|10) The special hamper for children contains a curious mixture of shoes, teletubbies and water pistols [Riyaad Minty]|
|11) Cooking oil and other basic essentials sit in the sun as residents look on [Azad Essa]|
|12) Those excluded from this particular Eid handout watch closely, wondering when their turn might come [Azad Essa]|