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Somalis Flee Clan Fighting - 2002-04-29


The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says about 6,000 Somalis have fled into the northeastern Kenya border town of Mandera to escape fighting between two groups of the Marehan clan, the dominant clan in the area. The UNHCR says the fighting erupted about two weeks ago in the Bula Hawa and Luuq areas of Somalia. The U.N. refugee agency says most of the Somalis who fled into Kenya are women and children. Aid workers say many are living with family and friends in the remote town of Mandera, which is near Ethiopia and Somalia. Refugee agency officials say many other Somalis are living in cramped temporary housing. While most of the refugees are reportedly in good condition, at least four people were killed while fleeing the fighting and several others were wounded.

UNHCR spokeswoman Millicent Mutuli says aid workers visited a hospital in Mandera to see the wounded.

"One ... was a baby who was shot while strapped on his mother's back. The child's mother herself was evacuated to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, because her condition was very serious. At the same time, the team saw another four people who were at the hospital, and they were there with gunshot wounds, although their condition was said to be stable.'

Inter-clan fighting in the Bula Hawa region is not unusual. Last year, about 10,000 people fled to Kenya to escape a similar outbreak. In that fighting, Ms. Mutuli says, the refugees were able to return home after a couple of weeks. She says the present group of refugees is eager to go home as soon as possible.

The refugee agency spokeswoman says elders from the warring Marehan sub-clans held a mediation meeting, which resulted in an agreement between the two warring factions to set up a peace committee

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