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Kenya: 100+ arriving daily from Pemba and Zanzibar

Briefing notes

Kenya: 100+ arriving daily from Pemba and Zanzibar

13 February 2001

At least 100 refugees arrive daily in Shmoni, Kenya from the east African islands of Pemba and Zanzibar. Since January 28, over 1,000 refugees have entered Kenya at Shimoni after demonstrations and violent clashes with police left scores of people dead and several others injured in the twin islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. UNHCR is concerned about the situation of the refugees who are accommodated at a bay in the small coastal town of Shimoni without adequate shelter. Some refugees are sleeping under trees, while others are out in the open. The refugees have not been allowed to leave the small bay. UNHCR and the Kenya Red Cross have provided tents for the refugees but are worried that with more refugees arriving daily, the situation is getting desperate and the government of Kenya needs to urgently identify an adequate site to accommodate the refugees. UNHCR has distributed food for 30 days to the group and is trucking in water every day from Mombassa, some 120 kilometres north.

Arriving refugees say that those suspected to be opposition leaders are being sought. The first group of refugees arrived in Kenya on January 28. Fishermen rescued most of these refugees as they were adrift in rough seas and brought them to Shimoni. Among the new arrivals are 15 Members of Parliament. There are also 35 wounded refugees, some with bullet wounds who have been treated. One refugee has had his leg amputated.

The population is generally in good condition. According to UNHCR's assessment, the new arrivals qualify for refugee status, but the Kenya authorities consider them as persons in need of humanitarian assistance.