NEWS 2007

 

Curfew eased to let relief aid in Somalia

By DAVID OCHAMI

KENYA TIMES

21. April 2007

KENYAN authorities in North Eastern Province have allowed the UNHCR to transport much needed medical and other supplies to thousands of Somali refugees stranded in Somalia’s Dobley and Afmadhow towns. 

But the relief assistance was instead delivered by local Kenyan NGOs to starving and sick refugees in Daadab where UNHCR runs three camps. 

UNHCR itself has been denied access to the international border, into Somalia despite the worsening humanitarian situation there owing to the upsurge of war in Mogadishu that has sent hundreds of thousands of Somalis fleeing towards Ethiopia, Kenya and across the Red Sea for Yemen. 

On Thursday last week, North Eastern provincial police commander, Antony Kibuchi, said a corridor of tranquility will be opened beyond the 18-Kilometre exclusion zone created by the Kenyan government in January to allow international aid reach the victims of war denied access to UNHCR camps of Daadab inside Kenyan territory. 

An estimate by the local intelligence officers in Garissa, the provincial capital, indicates there are about 8,000 refugees, mainly women, hurdled in the two towns across the border. 

On Thursday the UNHCR office in Nairobi estimated that there are 4,000 refugees stranded in Dobley and 36 of them are down with diarrhoea symptoms as reports from Daadab showed authorities had allowed trucks with supplies from Daadab to pass Liboi, the latter the main town on the main highway between Kenya and Somalia, to enter Harehare into Dobley, the latter town about 3 kilometer from the international border inside Somalia. Reports from Liboi and Daadab said two trucks left the latter town on Wednesday with supplies destined for Dobley. 

A statement by Emmanuel Nyabera, a UNHCR spokesman in Nairobi, indicated two trucks left Daadab for Dobley on Wednesday carrying mainly medicine and other supplies. 

Kenya closed its borders to refugees in January after the collapse of the government of the Islamic Courts Union of Somalia whose fighters and leaders fled Mogadishu and other Somali towns under a heavy aerial and ground assault by Ethiopian forces. 

Kenyan authorities said they shut the border to prevent the Islamist fighters from entering its territory but has been criticised heavily for breaking international humanitarian and refugee law for that.