Survey Finds Previously Isolated Community in CAR Faces Acute Hardship
Publisher: VOA, Voice of America
Author: Lisa Schlein | Geneva
Story date: 15/11/2011
Language: English

A new survey of displaced civilians in northern Central African Republic (CAR) finds people suffering acute hardship are forced to take extreme measures to survive. The survey, conducted by the United Nations refugee agency and the Danish Refugee Council, finds a high incidence of teenage marriage and widespread use of children as labor.

This survey covers 300 families from a population of 17,000 people who previously had been isolated because of war. The displaced live near the town of Ndele in northern Central African Republic. The town has been off limits to aid agencies for a long time because of the fighting.

U.N. refugee spokesman Andrej Mahecic says displaced people in the area had almost no access to humanitarian help before June. He says it became possible to gain access to the region when a cease-fire was signed between rebels of the Patriots' Convention for Justice and Peace and the CAR government.

He says before the peace agreement, the only civilians able to benefit from humanitarian assistance were those who managed to reach Ndele.

"There was an opportunity after the cease-fire," said Mahecic. "So, we decided first to do a survey in order to get a better picture of the humanitarian situation in this area and what are the needs of the displaced people."

And, as the survey reveals, the needs are great. The survey shows one in five of the 300 families had lost at least one family member during the first half of this year because of insecurity, a lack of health services or a shortage of food.

Mahecic says nearly one-third of the children between the ages of six and 15 were being used as child labor.

"Among girls between the ages of 12 and 17, 30 percent had been sold into marriage," said Mahecic. "IDPs [Internally Displaced People] told UNHCR that they married their underage daughters to members of the host communities or sent children to farm and fish for these communities in exchange for housing, food or money. UNHCR staff also received reports of gang rape by the armed groups, which arrive in the area."

The survey was carried out mainly between May and September. The UNHCR says more villages in the region will be surveyed to assess their conditions and needs.

The northern town of Ndele is around 700 kilometers from the CAR capital, Bangui. It once was considered the country's breadbasket. But since 2005, few residents have been able to farm.

Many have been reduced to living in the bush in fear of the rebel groups and armed bandits operating in the area.
 

Alassane Ouattara tente de convaincre les réfugiés ivoiriens de rentrer chez eux
Publisher: RFI, Radio France Internationale
Story date: 15/11/2011
Language: Français

Nov 15, 2011 (Radio France Internationale/AllAfrica Global Media via COMTEX) – Début octobre déjà, au Ghana, il avait appelé ses compatriotes réfugiés dans les Etats de la région à regagner la Côte d'Ivoire, pour « favoriser le règlement des malentendus ».

Ce mardi 15 novembre, Alassane Ouattara était au Togo pour signer avec Lomé et le HCR un accord tripartite. Et hier lundi, de passage à Cotonou, il a aussi appelé la communauté ivoirienne exilée à rentrer au pays. La question des réfugiés est une des grandes préoccupations du président ivoirien. Il faut dire qu'ils sont très nombreux à avoir franchi les frontières au moment de la crise postélectorale.

Selon les chiffres du Haut Commissariat des Nations unies pour les réfugiés (HCR), il y a aujourd'hui 187 000 Ivoiriens qui sont à l'extérieur de leur pays sur plus de 500 000 qui avaient fui la situation créée par la crise postélectorale. Ils sont répartis dans une douzaine de pays de l'Afrique de l'Ouest, à commencer par les voisins immédiats de la Côte d'Ivoire. La majorité de ces Ivoiriens se trouvent dans 2 pays : le Liberia à l'ouest avec encore près de 160 000 réfugiés et le Ghana à l'est avec environ 18 000 réfugiés. Le troisième pays de la région qui recense un grand nombre d'exilés ivoiriens, c'est le Togo, où ils seraient environ 5 000.

Les difficultés d'un éventuel retour

Le principal obstacle au retour des Ivoiriens dans leur pays, c'est qu'ils estiment qu'ils ne seraient pas en sécurité en rentrant chez eux. C'est en tout cas ce que la plupart d'entre eux disent aux personnels humanitaires, onusiens comme le HCR ou représentants des organisations non gouvernementales. Et puis, la plupart ont besoin d'une structure qui les accueille et qui les accompagne pour se réinstaller chez eux. Par exemple, pour reconstruire des maisons détruites ou réhabiliter celles qui ont été endommagées pendant la crise. Et de fait la crise a occasionné la destruction de beaucoup d'habitations.

D'autres réfugiés appréhendent des difficultés pour retrouver une activité qui leur assure un revenu. Il y en a aussi qui, pour avoir ou pour être soupçonnés d'avoir participé à des violences avant leur fuite, ont peur d'éventuelles représailles en rentrant chez eux.

Il faut dire aussi que le fait que les Forces républicaines de Côte d'Ivoire, qui ont soutenu Alassane Ouattara pendant la crise postélectorale, restent encore visibles dans les rues et sur les routes d'une grande partie du pays ne rassure pas certains réfugiés.

Des différents statuts des réfugiés

Quand on parle des réfugiés ivoiriens, il faut bien sûr distinguer ceux qui sont réfugiés pour des raisons économiques ou sécuritaires et ceux qui ne rentrent pas pour des raisons politiques.

D'un côté, il y a ceux que l'on peut appeler les citoyens ordinaires et c'est de loin les plus nombreux. Ce sont pratiquement tous les Ivoiriens partis de l'ouest, notamment de la région de Douékoué et qui sont au Liberia. Depuis la mi-octobre, ils rentrent au compte-gouttes, de manière spontanée ou à la faveur d'un accord tripartite entre le Liberia, la Côte d'Ivoire et le HCR. On retrouve aussi ces Ivoiriens ordinaires au Ghana. Et ils sont majoritaires.

De l'autre côté, il y a les exilés qui ont fui bien sûr pour leur sécurité, mais particulièrement parce que ce sont des hommes ou des femmes politiques, des militaires ou des cadres de l'administration qui étaient proches du régime de Laurent Gbagbo. On les retrouve principalement au Ghana.

Ouattara veut le retour de tous les exilés

Sur la question du retour des réfugiés, le président Ouattara est constant dans ces déclarations. Depuis la fin de crise il y a 7 mois, le chef de l'Etat ivoirien demande à ces compatriotes de rentrer chaque fois qu'il en a l'occasion : à la tribune de l'Assemblée générale de l'ONU en septembre, lors de sa visite au Ghana début octobre ou encore maintenant, 14 et 15 novembre, avec son voyage au Bénin et au Togo. Après une crise postélectorale aussi violente qui a fait officiellement 3 000 morts et des centaines de milliers d'exilés et de déplacés, Alassane Ouattara veut montrer qu'il est le président de tous les Ivoiriens. Il déclare vouloir tout faire pour assurer la sécurité aux rapatriés comme aux autres citoyens, mais il n'a jamais promis l'amnistie à ceux qui seraient poursuivis par la justice.

Enfin, le retour des réfugiés avant les législatives du 11 décembre, pour qu'ils puissent voter, participerait à l'idée que le futur Parlement serait beaucoup plus représentatif. Mais on n'en n'est pas là.

Le cas des déplacés

A l'intérieur même de la Côte d'Ivoire il y a toujours des déplacés, notamment dans l'ouest et là, le gouvernement les incite fortement à revenir chez eux. Les déplacés sont encore estimés à des centaines de milliers de personnes à travers le pays. Mais la situation de l'ouest est assez singulière : les forces qui ont soutenu Alassane Ouattara pendant la crise sont soupçonnées d'avoir commis les pires atrocités dans cette zone plus qu'ailleurs.

Sept mois après la crise, il y a encore des déplacés qui comptent sur l'aide humanitaire. Ils n'ont pas cultivé leurs terres et certains n'ont plus de maisons. Ceux qui rentrent chez eux ont parfois peur d'aller aux champs. Ils craignent de se faire racketter, notamment par les Dozos, ces chasseurs traditionnels qui ont soutenu Alassane Ouattara.

Les autorités ivoiriennes ne veulent pas que cette situation s'installe dans la durée. Elles tiennent à ce que lors des législatives le 11 décembre 2011, il n'y ait plus de camps de déplacés dans l'ouest.
 

Le président ivoirien a bouclé sa visite au Togo sur un accord tripartite pour le rapatriement des réfugiés ivoiriens et des convergences sur des questions d'intérêt commun
Publisher: Xinhua News Agency, China
Story date: 15/11/2011
Language: Français

LOME, 15 novembre (Xinhua) – Le Chef de l'Etat ivoirien, Alassane Ouattara a bouclé mardi une visite d'amitie et de travail au Togo, séjour qui a été meublé d'entretiens avec son hôte togolais, Faure Gnassingbé, sur les questions de coopération, de politique régionale et de géopolitique.

La visite du président ivoirien s'est soldé par la signature d'un accord tripartite entre Abidjan et Lomé et le Haut Commissariat des Nations Unies pour les Refugiés (HCR), pour le rapatriement volontaire des quelque 5.000 refugiés ivoiriens au Togo. Le président Ouattara a appelé ces réfugiés à regagner leur bercail, les rassurant que leur sécurité y serait garantie.

Les deux pays sont convenus de développer leur coopération économique et sécuritaire. S'agissant des grands projets régionaux, ils ont exprimé leur volonté de voir se concrétiser l'idée d'une autoroute côtière Lagos-Dakar passant par Cotonou, Lomé, Accra et Abidjan, ainsi que le renforcement de l'interconnexion électrique.

Abordant les questions d'ordre bilatéral, le président togolais a salué la consolidation progressive de la paix retrouvée en Côte d'Ivoire et assuré son homologue ivoirien de la collaboration étroite du Togo à l'instauration d'un véritable climat d'apaisement et de réconciliation entre tous les ivoiriens. Il a émis le voeu que les prochaines élections législatives prévues en Côte d'Ivoire le 11 décembre 2011, échéance cruciale pour le renforcement des Institutions démocratiques républicaines, puissent se tenir dans un climat d'apaisement total, dans l'intérêt supérieur du peuple frère ivoirien.

Alassane Outara a, à son tour, exprimé au chef de l'Etat togolais, au gouvernement et au peuple togolais, la reconnaissance du gouvernement et du peuple ivoirien pour leur contribution à la résolution de la crise post-électorale qui a secoué la Côte d'Ivoire en début d'année et pour l'élan de fraternité et de solidarité dont ils ont fait preuve à l'égard des soeurs et frères ivoiriens en leur assurant, au plus fort de la crise, une paisible hospitalité au Togo.

Le président de la République de Côte d'Ivoire a, en outre, noté avec satisfaction les efforts entrepris par le gouvernement togolais dans la voie de la réconciliation nationale et souhaité que la Commission Vérité et Réconciliation, mise en place après la crise post-électorale en Côte d'Ivoire, puisse s'inspirer de l'expérience de son homologue togolaise pour la conduite sereine du processus de réconciliation nationale enclenchée dans son pays.

S'agissant de la coopération bilatérale entre les deux pays, les deux chefs d'Etat ont réaffirmé leur volonté d'oeuvrer au renforcement des liens d'amitié, de fraternité, de solidarité et de coopération qui ont toujours existé entre la Côte d'Ivoire e le Togo. Ils ont, à cet effet, exprimé leur ferme engagement à oeuvrer pour la promotion de la coopération entre les deux pays dans les domaines politique, sécuritaire, économique, social, culturel ainsi qu'en matière d'infrastructures et d'énergie. C'est dans cet esprit que les ministres ivoiriens de la Justice, de l'Intérieur, des Affaires Etrangères, des Mines, du Pétrole et de l'Energie, de l'Intégration Africaine et le ministre délégué à la Défense ont, au cours de cette visite, eu une séance de travail avec leurs homologues togolais, une séance qui a permis de réitérer leur souhait de voir aboutir le projet d'autoroute côtière Lagos-Dakar passant par Cotonou, Lomé, Accra et Abidjan, ainsi que le renforcement de l'interconnexion électrique entre les pays de la sous-région, notamment entre la Côte d'Ivoire, le Ghana, le Togo et le Benin.

Les deux Chefs d'Etat ont également réaffirmé leur engagement à oeuvrer

à l'accélération du processus d'intégration de la sous- région, gage d'un développement harmonieux et d'une prospérité partagée entre les différents pays.

Abordant la situation politique dans la sous-région ouest- africaine, les chefs d'Etat togolais et ivoirien ont exprimé leur ferme volonté de relancer le Conseil de l'Entente et d'en refaire un cadre politique privilégié de concertation et de coopération entre

les Etats membres, salué la réélection de Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf et ont, par la même occasion, lancé un appel à tous les acteurs politiques libériens afin qu'ils renoncent à tout comportement susceptible de remettre en cause la paix et la stabilité retrouvées au Libéria.

Evoquant la situation sur le continent, les deux Chefs d'Etat ont pris acte des changements politiques intervenus en Tunisie, en Egypte et en Libye et ont vivement souhaité que ces pays retrouvent rapidement la paix, la stabilité et la concorde nationale, notamment à travers l'organisation d'élections démocratiques.

Pour la cause du développement durable et harmonieux dans la paix et la sécurité, et au regard des bouleversements récents sur le continent, ils ont mis un accent particulier sur le renforcement de la coopération entre nos différents pays en matière de lutte contre la criminalité transfrontalière, le trafic de drogue, la prolifération et la circulation des armes légères et de petit calibre ainsi que la piraterie en mer.

A ce titre, les deux chefs d'Etat ont recommandé des échanges d'information et des rencontres d'une part, entre les marines marchandes des deux pays, d'autre part, entre les services de sécurité et défense, y compris la participation à des manoeuvres militaires conjointes ainsi que l'octroi d'un nombre plus important de places aux stagiaires des deux pays dans leurs écoles respectives de formation militaire et de police. Dans cette optique, la Côte d'Ivoire a été invitée par le gouvernement togolais à étudier la possibilité d'adhérer aux accords quadripartites liant le Bénin, le Ghana, le Nigeria et le Togo.

Sur le plan international, les deux chefs d'Etat, après avoir pris note des conclusions du récent Sommet du G20, tenu à Cannes en France, ont lancé un appel pressant aux grandes puissances économiques afin qu'elles trouvent une solution rapide à la grave crise que connaît actuellement la zone euro et qui pourrait avoir des conséquences néfastes sur les économies fragiles des pays en développement et leur capacité à réaliser les Objectifs du Millénaire pour le Développement (OMD)..

Le président Ouattara a invité Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé à effectuer une visite officielle en Côte d'Ivoire, invitation acceptée par le chef de l'Etat togolais.
 

Where Soccer Has Been a One-Way Ticket Out
Publisher: the New York Times, USA
Author: By JAMES MONTAGUE
Story date: 15/11/2011
Language: English

KIGALI, Rwanda — In the fading light and steady rain at Amahoro Stadium, the Eritrea national soccer team trained in silence Monday as it prepared for one of its most important matches since securing independence from Ethiopia in 1993.

The team, known as the Red Sea Boys and ranked 190th by FIFA, will face Rwanda on Tuesday in the second leg of their 2014 World Cup preliminary qualifier. If Eritrea wins, it will advance to the second round, a group stage.

But the most important number after the match may not be how many goals Eritrea scores, but how many of its players are on the plane back home.

This is the first time Eritrea has played away from home in two years. The last time the national team left Eritrea, for a regional tournament in Kenya in 2009, the entire team disappeared after a match, later claiming asylum at Nairobi's United Nations High Commission for Refugees before being resettled in Australia.

Eritrea is considered among the most repressive countries in the world. The players' defections gained attention internationally after a diplomatic cable titled "Eritrea's squabbling colonels, fleeing footballers, frightened librarians" and dated Dec. 15, 2009, was released by Wikileaks. In it, the United States ambassador Ronald K. McMullen wrote: "Human rights abuses are commonplace and most young Eritreans, along with the professional class, dream of fleeing the country, even to squalid refugee camps in Ethiopia or Sudan."

A 2011 report on Eritrea by Human Rights Watch described how torture remained routine, how the continual state of conscription has destroyed the economy, and how up to 50,000 Eritreans live in Ethiopian refugee camps.

Athletes are among the few who can leave the country legally. But many do not return. In July, 13 players from Eritrea's top club Red Sea fled in Tanzania. Four players from the same team defected while playing in Kenya in 2006.

"Yes, something must be mended and we are trying to find out the cause," said Kahsay Embaye, the vice president of Eritrea's soccer federation. "But sometimes it is also a conspiracy by some people who are abroad."

In a section called "Soccer Team 1-Regime 0," the diplomatic cable described reports of the players' defections, and said that President Isaias Afewerki would "undoubtedly try to twist logic in some way to blame the United States" for the players' leaving.

But the cable also described the small country's passion for soccer. "Many dusty streets in Asmara are filled with urchins kicking an old sock stuffed with rags back and forth between goals made of piled stones," the cable said. "Senior government and party officials are avid fans of the British Premier League and sometimes leave official functions early to catch key matches."

Of the 12 players who defected, 11 went to Adelaide, Australia. Local soccer clubs arranged for four of them to share a house and arranged local jobs for them. Nevi Gebremeskel, a 21-year-old defender who just finished his season playing for White City Woodville, a team in the South Australian Premier League, said that the Eritrean soccer officials led him to flee, not the government.

"We need to play and we had a big problem with the federation," he said in a telephone interview. "If anyone got the chance to go overseas, any team from any country, they didn't allow them to go."

Speaking of the day the players defected, Gebremeskel said they had a meeting after the team finished the tournament in Kenya.

"We were all having the same thoughts, so we had the big meeting," he said. "Yes, I was scared. "We didn't have anything when we left. All we had was our kit."

Negash Teklit, the team's coach, smiled awkwardly when the defections were mentioned. Teklit, a former star of the Ethiopian national team before Eritrea gained independence, has coached the team for 11 years and was in charge at that tournament in 2009.

"This problem is not Eritrean only," he said. "This is a problem of African youths all over the world. They can immigrate from one country to another."

He added: "We have many players still. This generation and especially this team is the best team."

The team had to be rebuilt from scratch. A team of teenagers, picked from Eritrea's under-17 and under-20 squads, train in the jerseys of their heroes from England, France and Italy.

Eritrea's young team has managed to compete. The first leg against Rwanda, played at altitude in Asmara, ended in a 1-1 draw.

Teklit said that the federation learned its lesson and that some players were allowed to play professionally in a handful of friendly countries to avoid any more embarrassing defections.

"We make the players go out and get professional exposure in Qatar, Sudan, Kuwait," he said. He added: "We need the players to play at home first and not to hold them. But if they want to go, they can go."

Tuesday's game is the first litmus test of Eritrea's new policy. Embaye, the federation vice president, remains confident that after the game with Rwanda, all of the 18 members of the squad will return home.

"That is 100 percent sure," he said.

In Adelaide, Gebremeskel follows the national team. He said his fellow Eritrean players, two of whom play for Gold Coast United, one of Australia's top professional teams, were still friends and had built a community around their shared experiences. He said he was convinced that more ambitious soccer players would follow the path he and his teammates forged.

"Life is very good here, very, very good," Gebremeskel said. "Everyone is happy to live. If you need to work, you can work.

"Even tomorrow, after the game, the same thing is going to happen. Everyone has the right to a new life. I don't think they'll come back."
 

60 cholera cases reported among Somali refugees: UN
Publisher: AFP, Agence France Presse
Story date: 15/11/2011
Language: English

Some 60 cases of cholera have been reported among Somali refugees in Kenay's huge Dadaab refugee camp, with at least one person dying from the disease, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Tuesday.

Ten of the reported cases in the Dadaab camp have been confirmed by laboratory tests and one refugee has died, it said.

Most of the cases were detected among refugees recently arrived from Somalia, it added.

Daab is the world's largest refugee camp that lies very close to Kenya's border with Somalia. It is home to some 450,000 people and has its own bus service and is now considered to be Kenya's third-largest town.
 

Bomb destroys Kenya police car in refugee camp
Publisher: Reuters News Agency
Author: By Daud Yussuf and Noor Ali
Story date: 15/11/2011
Language: English

GARISSA, Kenya (Reuters) – A remote-controlled bomb blew up a police vehicle escorting a U.N. convoy in Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp near the border with Somalia on Tuesday, the second such incident in the camp this month.

A U.N. driver said the blast ripped through the back of the police jeep moments after the column of ten vehicles had left Hagadera, one of three camps in the sprawling complex, wounding two private security guards and two police officers.

Two refugees from the camp were arrested in connection with the attack, police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said in a statement.

Kenya has been plagued by a wave of attacks since it sent hundreds of soldiers into neighboring Somalia last month to crush the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militant group.

"The police car was at the front of the convoy. As we drove out of Hagadera we saw an explosion at the rear end of the landcruiser," said the driver who declined to be named.

"My car was third in the convoy," he said.

Abukar Mohamed, a local bus driver, said the blast took place a few hundred meters from the bus park where he was at the time, and sent people scrambling for shelter.

"I then ran to the site of the blast. The two G4S security guards were seriously wounded, they were bleeding all over. The two policemen had minor injuries," he said.

Witnesses said the attack left a two-meter crater in the sand track.

Dadaab, located about 100 km (60 miles) from the Somali border, was set up in 1991 to house Somalis fleeing violence in their country. The camp's population has swollen to more than 460,000 people this year because of famine in the lawless country.

SPATE OF ATTACKS

Two Spanish aid workers were kidnapped from Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp, and taken into Somalia last month, victims of a rash of abductions of Westerners in Kenya that spurred the country to deploy forces across the border.

Banditry is common around the camp but targeted bomb attacks are rare.

Tuesday's attack underscored the mounting threats facing aid workers and refugees in the camp.

The U.N.'s refugee agency, UNHCR, has already cut back its aid operations to essential services, namely distribution of food, water and health care in the camps where cholera has broken out.

"This kind of act will not deter the police force from performing its duty, of offering security and ensuring our country is protected against any evil characters, bandits or militias from Somalia," Leo Nyongesa, the police commander of North Eastern province, told Reuters.

Kenya, the region's biggest economy, is the latest country in a string of foreign powers to try and stabilize the Horn of Africa country that has been mired in violence for two decades.

Analysts warn Kenya's incursion risks dragging it into a broader regional conflict.

Somalia's al Shabaab militants have vowed to bring the "flames of war" across the frontier in retaliation. Security experts have also voiced concerns the rebels would increasingly turn to softer targets, such as tourists and aid workers.

Another Kenyan police truck escorting U.N. vehicles hit a land mine in the same area earlier this month, but the explosive failed to detonate.

(Additional reporting and writing by Richard Lough in Nairobi; editing by Matthew Jones)
 

Cholera breaks out in Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp-UN
Publisher: Reuters News Agency
Author: By Stephanie Nebehay
Story date: 15/11/2011
Language: English

GENEVA, Nov 15 (Reuters) – Cholera has broken out in the world's largest refugee camp in Kenya, home to nearly 500,000 Somali refugees, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

Insecurity also continues to hamper aid efforts following the kidnapping of Western aid workers from the sprawling Dadaab complex of five camps, where 100 additional Kenyan police have been deployed in the past month, it said.

"There are now 60 cholera cases in the camps, including 10 laboratory-confirmed cases and one refugee death," Andrej Mahecic, spokesman of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a news briefing.

The outbreak is believed to have started among newly arrived refugees from Somalia, where the disease is endemic, who may also have contracted it en route by drinking unsafe water from areas flooded by heavy rains, he said.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection transmitted in contaminated water that causes watery diarrhoea and severe dehydration and can kill within hours if not treated.

The UNHCR and other aid agencies have set up cholera treatment centres in the camp for severe cases and are promoting safe hygiene practices, Mahecic said. Most cases can be managed by giving oral rehydration solutions.

Kenya mounted an air and ground offensive against al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab, Somalia's Islamist rebels, last month after a string of kidnappings and cross-border raids it blamed on the group.

Ten days ago, a U.N. aid convoy struck a landmine that failed to detonate in the Dadaab refugee camp, where at least 463,000 Somali refugees are living after fleeing violence and famine in their anarchic homeland.

The incident took place close to where two Spanish women working for the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) were kidnapped last month.

"We are talking about a very volatile situation along the border with the situation in Somalia not getting any better," Mahecic said.

The UNHCR has already cut back its aid operations to essential services, namely distribution of food, water and health care, while suspending education and other activities.

"We would like to resume the full services as soon as possible. There are discussions underway," Mahecic said.

"But clearly the insecurity is something that needs to be addressed. We welcome the arrival of the additional contingent of the Kenyan police which should improve the situation and allow better freedom of movement and better security for the aid workers in the camps," he added.

In all, some 220 Kenyan police are now deployed in Dadaab, which consists of five camps spread across 50 square kilometers, according to the UNHCR spokesman.

Somali refugees are also fleeing to neighbouring Ethiopia. Somali children arriving there show high levels of malnutrition, according to the latest nutrition survey conducted at Kobe and Hilaweyn refugee camps, Mahecic said.

"They have arrived in extremely poor health, with many families losing children to malnutrition en route or after arrival in Ethiopia," he said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay, Editing by Rosalind Russell)
 

East Africa drought: Cholera outbreak in Kenya camp
Publisher: BBC News
Story date: 15/11/2011
Language: English

There has been an outbreak of cholera in the world's largest refugee camp in Kenya, home to Somalis fleeing famine and conflict, the UN has said.

It may have started among new arrivals at the camp where one person has died and there are now 60 cases, it says.

The aid operation at Dadaab camp was scaled back last month after the abduction of two aid workers.

Kenya blames Somali Islamist militants for the kidnappings and has sent troops into Somalia in pursuit of them.

But the al-Shabab group, which controls most of central and southern Somalia, denies it is behind the abductions.

Nearly half a million people have fled Somalia to seek assistance in Dadaab over the last two decades.

Rains and flooding

The UNHCR refugee agency says insecurity is still hampering aid efforts in the area, despite the deployment of 100 Kenyan policemen in the last month.

It says the situation has been exacerbated by the outbreak of the waterborne disease.

The UNHCR and other aid agencies have set up cholera treatment centres in the camp for severe cases.

"Rains and flooding had affected the trucking of water to parts of the camps, and we fear some refugees resorted to using unsafe water from flooded areas," the UNHCR said in a statement.

The drought in East Africa is the worst in 60 years, with Somalia worst affected.

Some areas have been declared famine zones, and many thousands have fleeing their homes to seek assistance over the borders.

Kenya's incursion has contributed to a slowing in flow of Somalis to Dadaab, but many are still arriving in Ethiopia.

A fifth refugee camp is being set up in Ethiopia and more than 7,600 recent arrivals from Somalia are now encamped at the transit centre, the UN said

Two Spanish women working for the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Dadaab were kidnapped in October.

Other abductions include a Kenyan driver also seized from Dadaab, a British woman taken from a coastal resort and a French woman who suffered from cancer.

French authorities say she has since died in Somalia.

Somalia has not had a functioning central government for more than 20 years and has been wracked by fighting between various militias.

Al-Shabab has not previously seized foreigners from its own territory, but armed gangs on land and pirates on the sea are known for kidnappings – demanding huge ransoms for the release of their captives.

The group has vowed to retaliate against Kenya for sending troops into Somalia. It has accused the Kenyan army of killing civilians.
 

Flambée de choléra dans les camps de réfugiés au Kenya
Publisher: ATS - Agence Télégraphique Suisse
Story date: 15/11/2011
Language: Français

Une flambée de choléra parmi les réfugiés somaliens dans les camps de Dadaab, au Kenya, inquiète les organisations humanitaires. Les pluies et les inondations ont entravé l'acheminement en eau potable et les réfugiés risquent d'être contaminés, a affirmé mardi le HCR.

Au moins 60 cas de choléra sont recensés dans les camps, dont dix cas confirmés en laboratoire avec un décès. La plupart des cas ont été décelés parmi les nouveaux arrivants en provenance de Somalie, a précisé un prote-parole du Haut Commissariat de l'ONU pour les réfugiés (HCR), Andrej Mahecic.

Le HCR et ses partenaires ont mis en place des centres de traitement pour les cas les plus sévères. Une campagne de prévention a été lancée parmi les 500'000 réfugiés accueillis dans les camps de Dadaab.

Le HCR reprend progressivement toutes ses opérations dans les camps, après le kidnapping de trois employés humanitaires, il y a plus d'un mois, en dépit de la poursuite d'incidents isolés, a ajouté le porte-parole de l'agence de l'ONU. Une centaine de policiers kenyans supplémentaires ont été déployés dans les camps au cours du mois écoulé.
 

Roundup: UN reports cholera outbreak in Kenya's largest refugee camp
Publisher: Xinhua News Agency
Story date: 15/11/2011
Language: English

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) – Heavy rains and an outbreak of cholera in Kenya's Dadaab complex are exacerbating the situation in the overcrowded refugee camp, where aid efforts were already hampered by insecurity, a UN spokesman told reporters here on Tuesday.

"The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says that insecurity, as well as heavy rains and the accompanying risk of waterborne disease, are affecting aid efforts in the Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya," Eduardo del Buey, the deputy UN spokesman, said at a daily news briefing here.

"The agency is exploring options to gradually resume full operations despite continued security incidents in and around Dadaab," del Buey said. "The situation has been complicated by an outbreak of cholera. There are now 60 cases in the camps, according to the agency."

UNHCR has increased levels of chlorine at water points in the camps and is promoting hygiene practices among the refugees.

The cholera is believed to have started among new arrivals, who had most likely acquired it in Somalia or en route to Dadaab, UN officials said here.

Dadaab is home to more than 400,000 registered refugees, nearly all of them Somali, with an estimated 70,000 people having arrived in July and August as conditions in their homeland rapidly deteriorated.

"However, UNHCR says that the number of deaths among children under five has decreased dramatically compared to the very high level seen at the height of the refugee influx this summer," the spokesman said. "This reflects improved access to quality health care and nutrition services, as well as improved water and sanitation facilities."

To manage the cholera outbreak, UNHCR and its partners have set up cholera treatment centers for severe cases. Most cases can be managed through oral rehydration solutions that can be given at home or at the health posts.

The agency is working with the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Kenyan Ministry of Health to train health workers in the community-based management of diarrhea so that patients can begin treatment at home.

Meanwhile, intermittent downpours in Ethiopia's Dollo Ado area continue to cause flash floods in the area. The airstrip was hit by floods in the past four days and has subsequently remained out of service.

Nonetheless, work continues on the fifth refugee camp in the area, Bur Amino, according to UNHCR. More than 7,600 recent arrivals from Somalia are now encamped at the transit center, where they receive basic shelter, relief items and hot meals.

Also, a nutrition survey at the Kobe and Hilaweyn camps in the Dollo Ado area has found high levels of malnutrition among children under five years of age. Refugees at both camps arrived from Somalia in extremely poor health condition, with many families losing children to malnutrition en route or after arrival in Ethiopia.

Health and nutrition programs have been set up by a range of experienced partners to address malnutrition, especially among the youngest children, but progress has been slow, said UNHCR.
 

Security Lapses Threaten Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Complex
Publisher: VOA, Voice of America
Author: Lisa Schlein | Geneva
Story date: 15/11/2011
Language: English

The United Nations refugee agency says insecurity continues to affect aid efforts in Kenya's Dadaab refugee complex, more than a month after the kidnapping of three aid workers. It says heavy rains and the risk of waterborne diseases are worsening conditions in the camps.

The U.N. refugee agency reports nearly 100 additional Kenyan police have been deployed in the Dadaab camps over the last month. Nevertheless, it says the situation in the Dadaab camps remains unstable. The agency says refugees and aid workers are uneasy because of what it calls security incidents.

UNHCR spokesman Andrei Mahecic said an explosive device was found next to one of the roads in the Dadaab complex last week. The device did not explode and no one was hurt.

"But, there have been other incidents along the border. There have been incidents reported widely also in the Kenyan media of the attacks on the Kenyan authorities and so on," said Mahecic. "So, we are talking about a very volatile situation along the border with the situation in Somalia not getting any better... Certainly the kidnappings that have happened in the camps have impacted on our work. We had to resort to essential services. We would like to resume the full services as soon as possible."

Mahecic said discussions are underway on the feasibility of resuming full operations in the Dadaab complex, which houses more than 450,000 Somali refugees. He said the UNHCR welcomes the additional troops in the campsite, as this should allow greater freedom of movement and better security for the aid workers.

The spokesman said the unsafe situation is further complicated by an outbreak of cholera in the camps. He said it is likely that newly-arrived refugees from Somalia have brought the disease with them.

"There are now 60 suspected cholera cases in the camps, including 10 laboratory-confirmed cases and one refugee death. To manage the outbreak, we and partners have set up cholera treatment centers for severe cases. Most cases can be managed through oral rehydration solutions that can be given at home or at health posts. We are working with UNICEF and the Ministry of Health to train health workers in the community-based management of diarrhea so that patients can begin treatment at home," said Mahecic.

In another complication, Mahecic said rain and flooding are affecting the trucking of water to parts of Dadaab. He said it is feared some refugees are drinking unsafe water from flooded areas, putting them at risk of waterborne diseases.

He also said aid workers are promoting good-hygiene practices among the refugees, especially the use of latrines and hand-washing with soap.
 

Two arrested as explosion hits security vehicle in northeast Kenya
Publisher: Xinhua News Agency
Story date: 15/11/2011
Language: English

GARISSA, Kenya, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) – Kenyan police on Tuesday arrested two refugees from Dadaab refugee camp in northeast Kenya after a landmine explosion hit a police vehicle which was escorting aid workers at the world's largest refugee camp.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said the explosion which may have been caused by a victim operated improvised explosive device took place at 16:40 local time (1340 GMT) as police officers were escorting a convoy of four vehicles transporting aid workers from Dadaab to Haghadera refugee camp.

"On board the vehicle were 4 police officers and 2 hired private security guards. The explosion damaged the rear part of the vehicle and the two private guards were slightly injured," Kiraithe said on Tuesday evening.

"Two suspects have been arrested and positively identified as refugees from Dadaab refugee camp," the police spokesman said.

"Investigations are continuing to establish all the circumstances surrounding the explosions, identify the criminals and their motive and device measures to prevent similar criminal attacks," he said.

Residents said the convoy was ferrying UN staffs from Hagardera refugee camp and were heading to Dadaab UNHCR sub office base where they daily leave for after attending duties in the highly populated refugee camp.

An eye witness who spoke from the scene said rear tyre was blown off by the explosion suspected to have been planted on the busy Hagardera-Dadaab road.

"The police vehicle is damaged beyond recognition," Hassan Mohamed, a Somali refugee who rushed to the scene after he heard the explosion told Xinhua.

The injured officers were rushed to the international Rescue committee hospital in Hagardera refugee camp where they are undergoing treatment.

The staff were evacuated and taken to Hagardera police base where they are awaiting experts to clear the road for safe passage.

The incident comes barely two weeks after a similar explosive was unearthed from the same road and later detonated.

A series of explosions linked to Somali militants Al-Shabaab revenge attacks have claimed two lives in the region and injured several including three paramilitary service police.

However, nobody has ever claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The explosions have sparked military operations in Garissa town targeting suspected agents hiding in hotels and residential houses where dozens of Somalis have been arrested.
 

Blast at Kenya refugee camp; UN says deaths of children caught in violence in Somalia rising
Publisher: AP, The Associated Press
Story date: 15/11/2011
Language: English

NAIROBI, Kenya — An increasing number of children are being caught in attacks and crossfire across south and central Somalia, the U.N.'s children agency said Tuesday, as a land mine targeting police exploded at the world's largest refugee camp in neighboring Kenya, wounding two people.

UNICEF said that 24 children were killed in conflict in Somalia in October, nearly double the confirmed child killings of every other month this year. UNICEF said 58 children also were confirmed to have been injured in October, the highest number this year.

UNICEF's representative to Somalia, Sikander Khan, said the true numbers are likely to be even higher.

"Somali children's lives are being put more and more in grave danger with the increasing conflict. In accordance with international law, we call on all parties to the conflict in Somalia to stop all killing, maiming, recruitment for armed services and rape of children," Khan said.

Kenyan troops moved into Somalia to fight al-Shabab militants in mid-October, but a UNICEF spokesman, Jaya Murthy, said UNICEF is not attributing the increased violence to a particular group.

The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Mogadishu last month that killed more than 100 people.

UNICEF is one of the few international agencies that has access to southern Somalia, a region that is largely controlled by al-Shabab militants.

"Generally, we've seen an increase in violence and armed confrontation and children have been caught in that violence," Murthy said.

Meanwhile, a Kenyan government official said an explosive device went off at the Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya on Tuesday, wounding two guards. The official asked not to be identified because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media. A U.N. security official said the blast appeared to be aimed at a police convoy that had just passed by.

No one was killed, but the blast happened only a couple yards (meters) from another improvised explosive device blast at Dadaab earlier this month, in the latest sign Somali militants are increasing attacks at the camp. Militants also kidnapped two aid workers from Dadaab last month. The attacks have forced aid agencies to scale back operations.

The U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday that there are 60 cases of cholera in the world's largest refugee camp — Dadaab, in eastern Kenya. One person has died from the outbreak.

UNHCR said the cases were believed to have been contracted in Somalia, as refugees were en route to Dadaab. Heavy rains in eastern Kenya are complicating efforts to fight the outbreak.

"Rains and flooding had affected the trucking of water to parts of the camps, and we fear some refugees resorted to using unsafe water from flooded areas," UNHCR said in a statement.

Elsewhere, the Danish Refugee Council, which had two of its workers kidnapped in Somalia last month, said Tuesday that traditional elders and members of civil society are mobilizing for the quick and safe release of the two workers.

American Jessica Buchanan and Dane Poul Thisted — aid workers with a de-mining unit of the Danish Refugee Council — are being held hostage.

The Danish Refugee Council said release efforts are being supported by a "substantial" number of Somali leaders who oppose kidnappings as contradictory to Somali values. It released a statement it attributed to the Habargedir clan condemning the kidnapping and asking for the release of the Buchanan and Thisted.

___

Associated Press writer Katharine Houreld in Nairobi, Kenya contributed to this report.
 

Border battles threaten the new Sudans
Publisher: BBC News
Author: By James Copnall, BBC News, Bentiu, South Sudan
Story date: 15/11/2011
Language: English

The steady, low drone of the Antonov over their temporary shelters sent the refugees running – and announced a dangerous new phase in Sudan-South Sudan relations.

Despite Khartoum's denials, Juba is convinced Thursday's bombing of the refugee camp in Yida, in South Sudan's Unity State, was the work of the Sudanese military.

It is reported that several people were killed in another aerial bombardment the next day in Upper Nile, also in South Sudan.

The war of words has come a step closer to a genuine conflict, in the tense lands either side of the still not completely defined new international frontier.

In the last few days South Sudan's President Salva Kiir has accused Sudan of wanting to drag his country back into a "meaningless war".

The new government in Juba believes that Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir is supporting southern rebels behind periodic attacks near oilfields in Unity State and Upper Nile.

"Omar al-Bashir believes only in war. He has problems in the north so he is trying to shift this to South Sudan to cover his weakness in his own country," Maj Gen Mangar Buong of the South Sudan army told the BBC.

Sudan denies this and has repeated its accusation that Juba is supporting rebels north of the border in the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

It is very hard to prove any of the competing claims, but the impact of the fighting on people is clear to see.

Stephen Gatwech is only five or six years old, with infectious laughter and a big smile. His loves his new toy, a trumpet made from shiny paper.

He is also missing most of his left leg – the result of a landmine accident. The mine, laid by rebels in Unity State fighting the southern government, reduced his foot to slivers of useless skin and killed his grandmother and others.

The mines and the occasional rebel attack are making life in Unity State difficult – as is Sudan's decision not to let many goods cross the border into South Sudan.

"I cannot say the economic situation in Unity State is good," says James, who owns a pharmacy in Bentiu, the state capital. "It's because the road from Sudan has been closed. The prices are really going up."

Others complain about their fear of travelling because of the landmines.

The South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) rebels in Unity say they are fighting against corruption, underdevelopment and mismanagement of the oil revenues, and liken South Sudan's leaders to the mafia and former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.

And it is surely no coincidence the rebels are operating where South Sudan's oil reserves are – the southern army spokesman has even called this a "war about oil".

In Upper Nile, southern rebels have attacked the army and now the charity Oxfam has pulled its staff out of the state because it said they were too near aerial bombardments over the border and a reported troop build-up.

'Rest and recuperate'

There are probably similar stories to be told over the border in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, but Sudan is not keen to let journalists visit these sensitive areas.

The situation up and down the border seems to be getting worse, just four months after South Sudan became independent.

Meanwhile, the status of the disputed territory of Abyei remains unresolved, though it has been in the hands of the Sudanese Armed Forces since May.

But if Sudan did bomb several places in South Sudan it is now operating militarily across an international border, an extremely serious act.

The same judgment would apply if South Sudan was found to be supporting SPLM-North rebels in Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

People fleeing fighting in those states have crossed the border to the south, and it appears the areas where they have gathered were bombed.

Khartoum believes it is the northern rebels who cross into South Sudan to rest and recuperate, before rejoining the fray.

That seems to be the logic behind the Sudan foreign ministry spokesman's declaration that there are no refugee camps in South Sudan.

The camp at Yida might contain SPLM-North fighters, though they deny this, but I also saw many women and children and old men, who clearly were not combat personnel.

Whatever the truth of the matter, there is no doubt the incident has further undermined Sudan and South Sudan's already fragile relationship.

The UN and the US have both already condemned Sudan, and the flurry of denials from Sudanese officials suggest they must have at least some concerns about the damage the accusations are doing to their country's standing.

Discussions in the UN Security Council also highlight the ongoing conflict either side of the border.

President Kiir has made it clear he will not let South Sudan return to war. But the increased tension cannot help the ongoing negotiations on post-secession matters, and the situation could potentially degenerate much further still.

The failure to resolve a number of issues before South Sudan seceded, including the border, security and oil, is being paid for now; and above all the lack of a meaningful solution for the areas of Abyei, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

These were, sadly, all too predictable sources of conflict. Now the virus seems to be spreading.
 

Le HCR condamne les attaques aériennes contre un camp de réfugiés au Soudan du Sud
Publisher: News Press, France
Story date: 15/11/2011
Language: Français

Le HCR a fermement condamné vendredi le bombardement aérien d'un camp de réfugiés temporaire dans le Soudan du Sud où sont hébergés plus de 20 000 réfugiés ayant récemment fui la violence dans les montagnes Nuba, au Soudan.

« Deux des bombes sont tombées dans le camp de Yida, dont l'une près d'une école », a indiqué Adrian Edwards, porte-parole du HCR. « Heureusement, il n'y a eu aucune perte en vie humaine dans le camp et nous évaluons la situation dans les communautés environnantes », a-t-il expliqué aux journalistes à Genève.

Le HCR préparait de nouveaux sites de réfugiés situés plus loin de la frontière lorsque le bombardement est survenu jeudi à Yida. « Nous espérions commencer le transfert des réfugiés mais nos efforts avaient déjà été freinés par de fortes pluies qui rendent impraticable la route vers le camp », a expliqué Adrian Edwards.

Le HCR est préoccupé par les tensions croissantes dans les zones frontalières entre le Soudan et le Soudan du Sud, où des centaines de milliers de civils ont été déracinés par les combats depuis juin.

Des informations sont également parvenues cette semaine à propos d'un bombardement meurtrier contre le village de New Guffa dans l'Etat du Nil Supérieur au Soudan du Sud. Des civils ont été tués et d'autres blessés. Jusqu'à 55 000 civils originaires des zones de Damazine et Kurmuk se dirigeraient vers le sud dans l'Etat du Nil Bleu au Soudan. Certains se dirigent vers Chali dans l'Etat du Nil Bleu.

D'autres traversent la frontière vers le village de New Guffa, à neuf kilomètres du poste frontière, ou vers Bunj, le chef-lieu du comté de Maban dans l'Etat du Nil Supérieur au Soudan du Sud. D'autres pourraient se diriger vers l'Ethiopie voisine où plus de 30 000 Soudanais ont déjà trouvé refuge et reçoivent une aide du HCR et de ses partenaires.

Les nouveaux arrivants dans le comté de Maban décrivent des villages vidés de leurs habitants au sud de la ville de Kurmuk de l'autre côté de la frontière. Les nouvaux arrivants sont enregistrés dans la ville de Bunj, où le HCR avait déjà établi un point d'escale ainsi qu'un entrepôt où est stocké du matériel d'aide humanitaire pour 15 000 réfugiés.

Des équipes d'évaluation des Nations Unies prévoient de se rendre à Maban ce week-end pour évaluer la situation humanitaire des nouveaux arrivants. Parallèlement, les autorités locales identifient des sites de réception temporaires, car elles anticipent davantage d'arrivées dans un contexte de tensions accrues.
 

Refugees Daily
Refugees Global Press Review
Compiled by Media Relations and Public Information Service, UNHCR
For UNHCR Internal Distribution