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Somali Refugee Influx Into Kenya Decreases

Somali Refugee Influx Into Kenya Decreases, UN Refugee Agency Reports

New York, Oct 27 2006 3:00PM

The arrival rate of Somalis pouring into neighbouring Kenya to escape factional fighting has dropped to about 300 people a day from a high of over 1,000 three weeks ago, the United Nations refugee agency said today, citing border officials.

“Refugees, however, said people were being prevented from reaching the border by the Somali Islamic Courts Union (ICU),” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Ron Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva, referring to the group in control of Mogadishu, the capital, and neighbouring areas. œIn addition, heavy rains had made many roads impassaῢle.

In Dadaab in north-east Kenya, UNHCR continues to expand existing facilities to accommodate new refugees. The Dadaab complex consists of three camps, which now have more than 50,000 refugees each, well beyond the recommended standard of 20,000 per camp.

Since the beginning of the year, some 32,000 Somalis have arrived in Kenya, pushing the total number of refugees in the three Dadaab camps to 160,000, mostly from previous influxes from a country torn by 15 years of factional wars with a central government as well as by drought.

UN officials have warned that the Somali influx could climb to 80,000 for the year, and earlier this month the world body issued an emergency appeal for $35 million to meet increased needs over the next six months.

A UNHCR team was expected to travel today to Liboi, on the Kenya-Somalia border, to arrange for the transfer of some 2,000 Somalis reported to be waiting there after a suspension in shuttling them to Dadaab. The Kenyan Government requested the suspension so that a more efficient system could be set up to screen and register newly arrived refugees.

This was necessary because Kenyan nationals were presenting themselves as refugees, Mr. Redmond said. “There were also refugees already registered at the Dadaab camps posing as new refugees with the aim of receiving multiple registration cards and consequently more assistance,” he added.

“Although the number of false refugees was small compared with the number of genuine new refugees, we agreed with the government that the system needed to be reviewed to ensure that the limited available resources are given to those who are genuinely in need.”

The Government will be involved in the screening and registration process, cross-checking against the country’s database for people already registered. UNHCR will also register the refugees and take their fingerprints, which will be matched against its own database of registered refugees.

Ends

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