The UN refugee agency says fear of further fighting in Mogadishu is behind the influx of more Somali refugees entering northeast Kenya.
Emmanuel Nyabera is a spokesperson for the UNHCR. From Nairobi, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the refugee movements.
“The situation is that since the beginning of this year, we have received around 18,000 new Somali refugees coming into Kenya to the Dadaab refugee camp. Initially, some of them were saying they are coming in because of drought that affected that part of the country. But of late, we’ve been receiving almost a hundred every day. A majority of them are coming from Mogadishu through Kismayo into Dadaab, claiming that they are running away because of the conflict in Mogadishu.”
The Union of Islamic Courts militias seized control of Mogadishu in June but continue to fight with what’s described as a “loose” alliance of warlords that had been in control of the city for many years.
There are three refugee camps in Dadaab. Nyabera says, “We know very well as it is now we can accommodate around 30,000 more. That is the number we are expecting to come this year, unless the war escalates.” If the war does escalate, the number of Somali refugees could be as many as 50,000. At that point, the UNHCR says it may request permission from Kenya to open a fourth camp in Dadaab.