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Kenya: Somalis fleeing inter-clan fighting

Briefing notes

Kenya: Somalis fleeing inter-clan fighting

26 April 2002

Up to 6,000 Somalis have fled into the north-eastern Kenya border town of Mandera to escape inter-clan fighting which erupted nearly two weeks ago in the Bula Hawa and Luuq region. Bula Hawa is some two kilometres from the Kenya/Somalia border. Somali clan elders however place the number of displaced at some 10,000.

A mediation meeting of elders from the warring sub-clans which was held in Mandera at the weekend reached a "ceasefire" agreement. The parties in conflict agreed to establish a peace committee and to relocate all the militia to a location outside Bula Hawa. The reconciliation meeting also agreed on ways to secure the town of Bula Hawa and asked for repatriation assistance for those displaced by the fighting.

A UNHCR team which visited the border town last Saturday said the majority of those who have fled across the border into Kenya are women and children. Many are living with family and friends in the remote town which borders Ethiopia and Somalia. Workers at Mandera Hospital said that four people who had been rushed to the hospital from the scene of fighting had died from their wounds. Among them was a baby who was shot while strapped to his mother's back. Two people, including the dead child's mother, were evacuated to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi for further treatment. Another four people with gunshot wounds were still at the hospital undergoing treatment but were said to be in stable condition.

Aid workers say many of the new arrivals are living in groups of up to 40 people under temporary shelter. Most are in good physical condition. Food and water is available, although there is concern that resources will soon run out if the inter-clan conflict is not resolved quickly.

Many of the displaced who spoke to UNHCR staff expressed their desire to return to their homes as soon as possible. UNHCR has appealed to the Kenya government to shelter the displaced until the situation in Bula Hawa returns to normal.