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UN alarmed at plight of Somali asylum seekers

By | September 10th 2010

By Amos Kareithi

The international community should not ignore thousands of Somali nationals fleeing their war torn country, a UN official has warned.

High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres at the same time said they have been overwhelmed by the outflow of asylum seekers fleeing to Kenya from Somalia.

"We are doing the best, but our best is not enough for Somali refugees. We need to do more but we do not have resources," he said.

During a visit to Kenya, which took him to Kakuma and Daadab refugee camps, Guterres said there have been attempts by some countries to block or discriminate against Somalis.

slammed doors

Kakuma and Daadab camps remain overwhelmed by refugee number. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]

"The anxiety expressed by Somalis is justified. Doors are being slammed. Please do not send them to their country as they are likely to be persecuted," Guterres said.

He said more than 20 years after anarchy broke out in Somalia, the flow of victims from endless war still continued.

Although he declined to give names, the High Commissioner said he was disheartened by some European countries for reportedly discriminating against Somalis.

He said although the UNHCR had made 128,000 submissions for relocation, only 80,000 have been successful, representing a meager one per cent of refugees.

While pressing the international community to do more to bring peace to Somalia, Gurretes said: "There is no evil without an end and there is no good thing, which will not end one day. One day the evil war in Somalia will end. Nothing lasts forever."

At Daadab, he expressed shock at the congestion in the refugee camp, which now has 287,000 refugees.

He ruled out closing of Kakuma camp, which was being used for relocation to decongest Daadab.

At the same time, Dadaab, he said, was being expanded to accommodate a further 40,000 asylum seekers.

Immigration Assistant Minister Francis Baya said the Government was planning to create a better reception centre near Kenya-Somalia border to screen refugees.

On Sudan, the commissioner said although 38,000 refugees had been repatriated following the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, tension still reigned.

"We are still receiving refugees from Sudan especially from Darfur region. We appeal to all the parties in Sudan to respect the outcome of the coming referendum," he said.

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