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SOMALIA: Displaced Somalis living rough near Kenyan border

NAIROBI, 19 April 2007 (IRIN) - At least 15,000 Somalis who fled violence in the capital, Mogadishu, are facing disease and uncertainty in Dobley town, near the Kenyan border, local sources told IRIN on Thursday.

"Our estimate is that since February, some 2,500 families [15,000 people] have arrived in Dobley," Ali Hussein Nur, the Dobley District Commissioner, said.

Families in the small town, he added, were hosting two to three families, while others had set up makeshift camps under trees. He said up to eight minibuses carrying internally displaced persons (IDPs) had been arriving daily from Mogadishu since February.

However, Nur said the influx had slowed in the last two to three days due to the start of the rainy season. "We have reached a saturation point and we need help with this," he added, noting that those who wanted to enter Kenya could do not so since the government closed its border more than three months ago.

Ali Hussein Goni, an official from the Swedish African Welfare Alliance (SAWA), said the IDPs faced the growing threat of disease at their makeshift camps. In collaboration with local authorities, a temporary isolation camp was set up on 1 April for people suffering from acute watery diarrhoea. Since then, 10 people, mostly children, had died.

"Today [Thursday] we have 20 patients, almost all children," he said, adding that the most pressing needs of the displaced were shelter, food and medicines.

"There are pressing needs in Dobley and other parts of south and central Somalia," Millicent Mutuli, the senior regional public information officer for the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, said. "However, there continue to be concerns about security in some parts of Somalia, which has limited the UN's ability to bring aid to needy families."

The agency has sent two truckloads of relief and medical supplies from Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya to Dobley, 18 km from the Kenyan border, UNHCR said in a statement.

The town is struggling to cope with a recent influx of displaced Somalis and an outbreak of diarrhoea, the agency added.

Since intense fighting between Ethiopian-backed government troops and insurgents began in February, at least 1,000 people have been reportedly killed and more than 200,000 others displaced.

Meanwhile, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has closed its employment programme in Mogadishu. The programme had been engaging communities in employment intensive projects around the city.

"The ILO Employment for Peace (EFP) in Mogadishu and South and Central Somalia regrets to announce the early termination of its activities in Mogadishu," ILO said in a statement on Thursday. "The early termination is due entirely to the security situation in the city."

Ah/jm

[ENDS]

Copyright © IRIN 2007
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.



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