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Kenya: 100 new refugees arriving daily from Zanzibar and Pemba

Briefing notes

Kenya: 100 new refugees arriving daily from Zanzibar and Pemba

20 February 2001

An alleged crackdown on opposition activists in Zanzibar and Pemba (Tanzania) is driving more people into exile. About 100 new refugees arrive daily by boat in the small Kenyan coastal town of Shimoni. They speak of continued arrests, detention and torture of members of the opposition group by the Tanzanian authorities. They also told UNHCR of systematic break-ins at homes of oppositon Civic United Front members in Pemba and Zanzibar. UNHCR has registered 1,630 refugees, since January 27th when an anti-government demonstration sparked bloody clashes between security forces and opposition supporters. Arriving refugees say that more people are likely to flee if the reported crackdown continues. At the current rate, the number of refugees in Shimoni will rise to 2,000 by the end of the week, putting a huge strain on the tiny harbour town. Many of the refugees lack adequate shelter and are sleeping outdoors. Sanitation facilities at the site are insufficient for a large number of people confined to a fisheries compound at the bay. Water is being trucked daily from Kenya's port city of Mombasa, some 160 kilometres north. UNHCR in consultation with the local authorities has identified a new site on the outskirts of Shimoni where more adequate lodging can be provided. The final decision regarding possible use of the site rests with the Kenyan government.