More refugees arriving

At least 100 Somalis are arriving daily in northeastern Kenya, fleeing mounting insecurity in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, said on Monday.

"Last week alone we had about 1,800 people arriving in Dadaab refugee camp," Emmanuel Nyabera, the spokesman for the Kenyan office of the UNHCR, said.

Those arriving in Dadaab are generally in good health, but many are visibly exhausted from the long journey, he said.

Since January, about 18,000 Somali refugees have arrived in Dadaab, where three refugee camps already hosted some 134,000 people, mainly from Somalia.

Nyabera said many who arrived early this year said they were escaping drought, "but recent arrivals are saying insecurity was the main reason they left", he said.

"Many said they lost relatives in the fighting and walked or came by truck from Mogadishu," Nyabera said. "We are concerned that if the security situation in Somalia does not improve we may have bigger numbers arriving."

He added that if this rate of arrival continued, another 12,000 refugees could be expected by the end of the year.

Some of the new arrivals said they had fled Mogadishu to escape fighting between the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) and a loose alliance of warlords, who had controlled the Somali capital for years. The UIC seized control of Mogadishu in June.

The UIC took control of Mogadishu and several areas in southern and central Somalia after defeating an alliance of secular armed factions who had controlled the city for more than a decade. Fighting between the two groups erupted in February and only subsided in early June when the Islamic group routed the warlords.

Somalia has been without a functioning government since the overthrow in 1991 of the administration led by Muhammad Siyad Barre. The Transitional Federal Government created in 2004 is still struggling to overcome internal divisions and establish its authority in the country.

Nyabera said the refugees feel that they are safer in Kenya "and can monitor the situation back home from Dadaab".

ah/mw