Now that Kenya has closed its border with Somalia, the UN refugee agency says it is not able to help many Somalis wanting to leave their country.
Nemia Temporal is in charge of UNHCR operations in Dadaab, Kenya. That’s the location of three camps housing over 100-thousand Somali refugees. Temporal spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the refugee situation.
“So far, the Government of Kenya has officially closed the border. In fact, it’s not only closing the border, but 400 or so people, who have crossed the border and who were at the reception center and 194 of them were registered, have been taken by the government without our knowledge back to Somalia,” she says.
With the swift victories of the Ethiopian backed Somali forces, some officials have said there’s no need for more Somalis to cross into Kenya.
Temporal says, “While the Government of Kenya and the transitional government in Somalia are saying that there are no reasons for people to flee, the reports that we receive are, to the contrary, saying that there’s still no peace in Somalia. And that while its true that TFG (Transitional federal Government) is trying to gain some stronghold on the areas that used to be occupied by ICU (Islamic Courts Union), the reports that reach us are that people are really displaced right now and there is no sense of rule and order. There is a vacuum, a power vacuum right now in areas where ICU used to be.”
She says negotiations are underway on the diplomatic and local level to try to get the border reopened.