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Thousands Of Somalis Reach Kenya
UN camps at Daadab are already home to about 150,000 Somalis
Nairobi, Kenya, October 6, 2006 – UN officials report a big rise in the number of Somali refugees crossing into Kenya to escape instability at home.
At least 2,000 arrived in the past two days, about three times the usual rate, the UNHCR refugee agency said.
The influx coincides with reports that fighters allied to the Union of Islamic Courts have moved into towns close to the Kenyan border, the UNHCR said.
It also expressed concern that its facilities for refugees in Kenya would be overwhelmed if the trend continued.
The Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) has taken control of large areas of central and southern Somalia, including the capital, Mogadishu, in the past few months.
More than 30,000 Somalis have crossed into Kenya this year seeking shelter in camps.
The UNHCR said 2,069 people had arrived at the Liboi and Amuma border crossings since Wednesday.
The rate of arrivals threatened to overstretch its refugee facilities at the Daadab complex, about 80 kilometers (80) miles from the Somali border.
"If we continue to have more than 1,000 people a day, then most of our staff would have to be deployed to the border.
"But we already have more than 150,000 people in the camps [at Daadab] who need our help," Nairobi spokeswoman Millicent Mutuli told the Associated Press.
The UN also said there was concern among local Kenyan villagers that scarce water resources could be put under pressure or even contaminated as a result of the arrivals.
Security in northern Kenya is being stepped in the wake of the UIC's capture of the southern Somali port of Kismayo last month.
The UIC says it poses no security threat to neighboring countries.
But residents on both sides of the border hail from the same clans and there are now fears that the UIC's influence could extend far into Somali-inhabited north-east Kenya.
Source: BBC News