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More Somali Refugees Flee to Kenya


The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) says Somali refugees continue to flee to Kenya. Since September 13, the UNHCR says more than 3,400 Somalis have fled growing tensions and fighting in their country.

The U.N. refugee agency reports more than 600 Somali refugees arrived at the Kenyan border town of Liboi. They since have been transported to a UNHCR camp at Dadaab. This follows a similar movement of more than 440 Somali refugees who crossed over the border into Kenya on Friday.

The agency says incidents such as this are becoming more frequent. Since the beginning of the year, the UNHCR reports more than 26,300 Somalis have sought refuge in Kenya.

Spokesman Ron Redmond says most of the refugees are women and children. They tell U.N. aid workers they are fleeing rising tensions and fighting between clan based warloards and the Islamic Courts Union militia.

"They report walking from Mogadishu, Kismayo and Baidoa, which is the headquarters of the Transitional Government. Some claim that they have been personally attacked by armed militia, while others say they fled because their neighbors had been killed and they feared a similar fate," he said. "People crossing the border generally suffer from extreme fatigue an many children appear malnourished. We fear that the numbers may further increase following militia fighting over the weekend in Dobley, a village 18 kilometers from the Liboi border crossing."

Redmond says two refugees died on arrival in Kenya, and a wounded man was transported from Liboi health center to Dadaab for treatment. He says the UNHCR also is afraid the attempt to assassinate the President of the Somali transitional government in Baidoa Monday may cause more people to flee. The President escaped the attack by a suicide bomber, but 11 people, including his brother were killed.

Redmond says UNHCR's Africa Bureau director met with refugee representatives in Kenya's Dadaab camp on Saturday. He says she is in northern Somalia for the next two days to visit internally displaced people and community leaders in Somaliland.

Kenya hosts more than 227,000 refugees, mainly from Somalia and Sudan.