Thursday, June 04, 2009

Number of people fleeing Somalia now reaches 7,000 per month

The fighting has been going on in Somalia for a long time, but the numbers of people fleeing the country is greater than ever before. The United Nations says that 7000 people a month a fleeing Somalia for Kenya. The refugee camps in Kenya are unable to feed and house all of the new people coming in, many wait for days before even being noticed by a camp worker.

From Reuters, writer Frank Nyakairu describes the situation there.

Eighteen years of civil conflict in Somalia show no sign of abatement, with foreign militants joining Islamist rebels seeking to topple a new government that is the 15th attempt to restore central rule since 1991.

About 80,000 people have died in the last two years alone, while a million Somalis are refugees in their own land, three million need urgent food aid and hundreds of thousands have crossed borders into Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

"We have been receiving an average of 7,000 refugees (per month) since January and from what they tell us, the major reason why they leave their country is increasing insecurity," said Anne Campbell, head of the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR's sub-office in Dadaab, north Kenya.

Located 100 km (60 miles) from the border, Dadaab's three main camps -- Dagahaley, Ifo and Hagadera -- are a large settlement of mainly flimsy huts and tents on sandy scrubland.

Set up in 1991, the camp was designed for 90,000 refugees but now houses 275,000, mainly Somalis.

Aid agencies expect this number to keep increasing, and are seeking more space from the Kenyan government.

"We are preparing for a higher influx in mid-June because the rain has made it impossible for those fleeing the current fighting to reach the border easily," added Campbell.

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