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More Aid Need for Somali Refugees, As More Cross the Border into Kenya


The United Nations' food agency says Somalis fleeing conflict in their country have pushed the number of refugees in Kenya to the highest level in decades, threatening to exhaust food supplies.

The World Food Program (WFP) says 24,000 Somalis have entered camps in neighboring northeastern Kenya since January. Kenya is now housing 240,000 registered refugees from various countries. Fifty thousand more are expected by the end of the year.

The WFP says it will be forced to cut its food rations in the camps in November unless new funding comes through.

The Somalis who have been crossing the border into Kenya in recent months are being taken to the refugee camps in Dadaab, about 80 kilometers from the border.

Emanuel Nyabera is a spokesman for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR). From Dadaab, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about conditions there.

“The camps here are trying to cope. As you are aware, we are moving around an average of 300 refugees everyday from the Laboi border entry and bringing them down here to Dadaab. What we are doing for the moment is to make sure that they are medically screened to find out if we have people who are sick. And we’re also immunizing them against polio and measles. We are also extending the capacity of the camps so they can accommodate more refugees as they come,” he says.

Asked about the number of refugees there, Nyabera says, “We have currently around 140,000 refugees in Dadaab. And that is a complex that is made up of three difference camps…. Since the beginning of the year we’ve received around 25,000 new refugees.”