'Dramatic rise' in Somali refugees in Kenya: UNHCR

24th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Over 20,000 Somalis have fled to Kenya's overcrowded Dadaab camp in the past two weeks, the UN refugees agency said Friday, highlighting the "shocking conditions and state of the people" who had arrived.

"There's been a dramatic rise" in the number of refugees, said Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

"Not only is the number of cases shocking. It's the conditions, it's the state of the people as they arrive," she added.

Having walked for days to flee unrest and a "horrible drought," the refugees were arriving at the camp exhausted and suffering from malnutrition, said Fleming.

Severe overcrowding at Dadaab, which was built for 90,000 but is now host to over 360,000 people, is also a problem.

The UNHCR said it has been unable to provide new plots for refugees who are therefore settling outside the camp.

The protracted conflict in Somalia has led to massive displacements, including 750,000 who have sought refuge in the region, and another 1.46 million who have been displaced within the country.

© 2011 AFP

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