Churches assist refugees on Somali and Kenyan border

By staff writers
January 4, 2007

After the intervention of the Ethiopian troops, the situation in Somalia continues to be very tense, with the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) refusing a government offer for amnesty, say church agencies working in the region.

The Islamic Courts Union fled their last stronghold in the southern port city of Kismayu on Monday 1 January 2007 and has announced that they will continue to resist the Ethiopian troops.

Members of the international Action of Churches Together (ACT) consortium, the Lutheran World Federation/World Service (LWF/DWS) programmes in the Horn of Africa have been following the situation in Somalia and preparing contingency plans for a further deterioration of the situation.

In Kenya a growing number of Somalis have streamed into Kenya due to escalation of violence in Somalia during the last few weeks. The flow of refugees crossing the border has increased from an average of 300 to 400 individuals a day, to more than 1,000 a day over the past few weeks.

The refugees are arriving at Dadaab, located in the Garissa district in northeastern Kenya, where there are already three refugee camps. Furthermore, the unusually heavy November 2006 rains flooded and destroyed shelters and latrines in the camps.

The LWF/DWS programme in Kenya, under the lead of UNHCR and in coordination with the ACT Forum in Kenya, is sending an assessment mission to Dadaab. The mission will arrive to Dadaab on 11 January 2007. Its purpose will be to identify the existing gaps in the provision of basic services to the current caseload in Dadaab as well as the capacity to deal effectively with a large scale influx.

LWF/DWS in Eritrea has been closely involved in internal planning for an escalation of the situation throughout the year, and will be heavily involved in all sectors of humanitarian relief, should the conflict expand into that country, it says.

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