The U.N. refugee agency reports the number of uprooted Somalis arriving
this year in the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya
has surpassed 45,000. The UNHCR says thousands of Somali refugees,
desperate to escape fighting in their country, make the difficult
journey to Kenya every month. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from UNHCR
headquarters in Geneva.
The U.N. refugee agency
says about 5,000 refugees arrive in Kenya's remote Dadaab
refugee camp every month. The camp is located some 80 kilometers from
the border with Somalia.
The Kenya-Somalia border has officially
remained closed since early 2007. But, UNHCR spokesman, Ron Redmond,
says this has not stopped thousands of desperate people from coming.
is a fairly porous border," he said. "It is a very remote area. So, it
is not all that difficult to get across the border. Once they do get
across the border there are teams, mobile teams, which are able to
reach them. There is a reception center where they are interviewed and
then they are taken to the camp. So, it is not all that difficult for
them to get across aside from the official checkpoints."
is one of the world's oldest, biggest and most congested refugee
camps. The UNHCR says the population is now more than 215,000. This
is a 25 percent increase since the beginning of this year. It says
most of the refugees arriving in Dadaab are from the Somali capital,
Mogadishu where the fighting is most intense.
The UNHCR says
Dadaab camp has twice as many people as it should have. It says the
recent influx has worsened the overcrowding and it is planning to build
another camp to house newly arriving Somali refugees.
agencies describe this week's fighting in Mogadishu as the worst since
the beginning of the latest insurgency in February 2007. Redmond says
at least 15,000 residents have fled their homes.
He says almost
half of the newly displaced civilians have moved to safer parts of
Mogadishu. The others have fled toward the Somali town of Afgooye,
which, he says is already jammed with more than 300,000 internally
"The new wave of displacement in Mogadishu is
worsening an already catastrophic situation in a war-torn country where
more than one million people are displaced," he said. "Some 700,000
people fled Mogadishu last year alone. And, we estimate that since the
beginning of this year, another 160,000 were forced to leave the Somali
capital. Our partners in the city say people are confused, traumatized
and fleeing in panic and despair. Many have no idea where to find
shelter as they try to escape the massive and indiscriminate shelling
This upsurge of violence reportedly has killed
some 200 people and wounded scores of civilians, including women and
children. Redmond says the UNHCR fears the movement out of Mogadishu
is likely to increase with the end of the month of Ramadan next week.