This report from Lennart Hernander describes how the LWF goes about receiving new arrivals. Highlighted is the role of incentive workers, refugees employed by the camp. These individuals have an intimate knowledge of what it means to be a refugee, usually come from the same background as incoming refugees and have a strong knowledge of how the camps work. These gifts make them invaluable to creating and implementing the best possible arrival process for new arrivals.
The largest group of LWF incentive workers is the Social Assessment Team. Once the newly arrived refugees have been received, they receive a ration card from the UNHCR. The most vulnerable persons such as pregnant women and persons with special needs come to the LWF for an assessment. The LWF social clerk carries out what is known as a “vulnerability assessment” of all new arrivals. Depending on the assessment, the refugees receive various Non-Food Items (NFI’s) and can also be referred to other agencies working in the camp, agencies with the necessary expertise e.g. medical partners. “When refugees come here they are all in a very vulnerable situation. It is our job to identify the most vulnerable,” explains one of the LWF incentive workers, Mohammed Duale Gure, who carries out assessments on a daily basis.
“I like to help my community, whatever they don’t know, I know. I even know the language they speak and can easily discuss with them. I have lived here in Dadaab for so long, I know their needs and I know who’s lying and who’s telling the truth,” he continues. Mohammed came to the camp in 1991 with his mother, and he has schooled in camp, both primary and secondary. He truly understands the life and culture of the camp and of life in Dadaab.
The new arrivals are also given an induction by LWF on leadership structures in the camp, the various agencies present, life and culture in a camp and they are informed about the services offered in the camp.“The incentive workers know how things should be implemented because they understand the culture. So they give the best advice on how to handle refugee matters. They really help us a lot! They bring ideas and make our work easier. I speak the Somali language, but there are still ways in which the incentive staff can assist the refugees that I cannot,” describes Liban Abdirahman Mohamud, the LWF Social Assistance Officer in the Ifo camp. Not only are the incentive workers a great assistance to the regular LWF staff in Dadaab, they also feel a responsibility towards their community. They go beyond their call of duty to do whatever they can to make life easier for their fellow refugees. “Being the learned person that I am now, I can contribute to my community, I can easily mobilize the community and they will listen to me. They know I’m also experienced in the camp life. They feel more comfortable approaching me, asking me questions, than they would someone else. I’m a refugee and an agency worker at the same time,” Mohammed concludes.
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