Since the beginning of the year, more than 32-thousand Somali refugees have crossed the border into Kenya. The UN refugee agency – the UNHCR – has been forced to expand existing refugee camps in Dadaab to accommodate them.
At one point, a thousand refugees a day were arriving at the Liboi crossing point. That number reportedly is down to around 300 a day. The UNHCR says that’s due to heavy rains and reported attempts by the Islamic Courts Union militias to prevent the Somalis from leaving.
The UN agency recently suspended operations in Liboi to better deal with the influx. That’s about to change. Emanuel Nyabera is a spokesperson for the UNHCR. From Nairobi, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua.
“We’ve been having a number of discussions with the government in Kenya so that we can make our intervention more efficient, especially when it comes registration and vetting people who are coming in.
Two days ago, a delegation from Nairobi…and the head of our office here went to Dadaab and the border point Liboi and assessed the situation. And the government has said that we can now proceed and move around 2,500 people, who are currently in Liboi. So, today, as I speak, a team has gone down to Liboi to assess the situation and work closely with the immigration department of the government of Kenya.”
When will the refugees be moved? Nyabera says, “We are hoping that even by tomorrow, this coming weekend, we should be able to move the first batch.”
There are currently 160,000 refugees from neighboring countries in the Dadaab camps. The UNHCR says the camps may be able to hold another 40,000.