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UN: Somalis Face Difficulty Fleeing Country


The UN refugee agency says it is becoming increasingly dangerous and difficult for Somalis to flee the country despite the growing desperation of hundreds of thousands of people anxious to escape war, hunger and drought.

The UN refugee agency says the situation in Somalia continues to deteriorate. Despite this, it says the flow of refugees into most neighboring countries has decreased considerably compared to the same period last year.

UNHCR spokesman, Adrian Edwards, says the sharp drop in the numbers of people fleeing across borders has nothing to do with Somalia having become a safer or more stable country.

"The situation is worsening. Everyday violence and human rights abuses in Somalia continue to displace thousands of people," said Edwards. "We estimate that more than 200,000 Somalis have been forced to leave their homes this year alone-with most becoming displaced inside the country. Due to insecurity and a lack of access to many parts of the country, we and other humanitarian organizations providing aid are facing great difficulties in reaching the millions of needy."

Edwards says people who do manage to flee Somalia speak about the horrors reigning in the country. They say it is becoming increasingly dangerous and difficult to flee and many displaced people are trapped inside the country.

Last year, more than 13,800 Somalis fled to Yemen. The UNHCR reports less than half that number has arrived this year. The agency says the number of Somalis arriving in Kenya also has fallen by a third over last year's figure of 44,385.

Edwards says the one regional exception is Ethiopia. He says more than 12,600 Somali refugees have managed to reach that country this year compared to more than 8,400 in the first six months of last year.

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