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Riot in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya Kills Two

  • Kim Lewis

Newly arrived Somali refugees wait to be registered by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees at Dagahaley camp in Dadaab in Kenya's northeastern province, June 8, 2009

Newly arrived Somali refugees wait to be registered by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees at Dagahaley camp in Dadaab in Kenya's northeastern province, June 8, 2009

Two Somali refugees are dead and about a dozen injured after rioting yesterday at the Dadaab refugee complex In Kenya. The U.N. human rights agency (UNHCR) says it began when police intervened over an illegally built structure near a food distribution point.

The UNHCR says the incident was an indication of the pressures at the camp, which now houses hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees. The overcrowding is compounded by the high number of daily arrivals of refugees fleeing violence and in need of food, water and medical assistance.

“The refugee camp is very congested,” said Emmanuel Nyabera, spokesperson for the UNHCR’s Nairobi office. “There are so many people because we are receiving around 1,300 refugees each and every day from Somalia.

Nyabera said he had just visited the camp a couple of days ago. Some of the refugees were fleeing violence, he said, and others were facing drought at home.

“So we have a situation where some of the refugees were building some shacks in areas where they are not supposed to build.”

The Kenyan government decided to tear down the structures, he explained, and as they began tearing them down, the refugees reacted with rage.

“The government officials retreated to a police station, but some refugees mobilized themselves to attack the police station,” said Nyabera. He said the situation deteriorated to the point where police used tear gas, but it did not work. Then police fired on the rioters, leading to the deaths and injuries.

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