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Kenya: Zanzibar and Pemba refugees continue to arrive

Briefing notes

Kenya: Zanzibar and Pemba refugees continue to arrive

26 February 2001

Zanzibar and Pemba (Tanzania) refugees continue to arrive in Kenya, despite a reported calm in the two islands. To date, UNHCR has registered 2,164 people. Seventy-six people arrived yesterday. The refugees remain confined to the fisheries compound in the coastal town of Shimoni, near the Kenya-Tanzanian border, where space has become a problem. The situation has remained desperate because the limited space within this compound makes it difficult to provide assistance to the refugees. Some are sleeping in the open. There are no sanitary facilities in the confined area and a continuation of this confinement poses a health hazard. UNHCR is still optimistic that a new site will be made available, despite the Kenyan government's decision to withdraw the authorisation for a site they had originally allocated for the Tanzanian refugees. The authorities have given no reason for the withdrawal, except to say they had received "instructions from above."

The Kenyan government says it has not yet confirmed the status of these refugees. Until their status is confirmed, the refugees will not be allowed to move outside the fisheries compound, the government said. The authorities are considering relocation of the refugees to one of the only two refugee camps in Kenya - Dadaab and Kakuma. The nearest camp, Dadaab is more than 1,000 km away.