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No Mass Exodus Yet of Somali Refugees, says UNHCR

There’s concern that the turmoil in Somalia could trigger an exodus of refugees into neighboring countries. But so far, that apparently has not happened.

Nemia Temporal is in charge of the UNHCR refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya, home to many Somalis. She spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about any new arrivals from Somalia.

“So far, we’ve just received a trickle of people, not so many. Two days ago, we had 20 people arriving in Liboi, Kenya (border crossing), and today (Friday) 46 persons. So, we still don’t see that kind of big exodus coming to Dadaab right now,” she says.

Temporal describes the mood in the camps. “The people here in Dadaab are equally concerned about what is going on in Somalia. And they only hope that with the transitional government now trying to take control of the situation, there could be some kind of peace on the horizon soon. But I think the attitude in the camp is still wait and see because the situation is really fragile. And even if the transitional government has taken over Mogadishu…that there’s still kind of a volatile situation,” she says.

There are about 160,000 Somali refugees in Dadaab, of which 32,000 arrived in 2006.

The UNHCR official says work continues to rebuild the Ifo camp, one of the camps in Dadaab, and relocate people following recent floods.