afrol News, 26 April - Some 6,000 Somali refugees have crossed the Kenyan border to escape the newly erupted inter-clan violence in the Bula Hawa and Luuq region. They flocked into the border town of Mandera in the north-east of Kenya nearly two weeks ago, UN refugee agency spokesperson Ron Redmond said today at a press conference in Geneva.
The actual number of displaced is, according to Somali clan elders, probably close to 10,000 persons, the majority of these being women and children. Many are living with family and friends in the remote town of Mandera which borders Ethiopia and Somalia.
Aid workers say many of the new arrivals are living in groups of up to 40 people under temporary shelter. Most are in good physical condition. Food and water is available, although there is concern that resources will soon run out if the inter-clan conflict is not resolved quickly, according to Redmond.
Workers at the Mandera hospital report that four people who had been rushed to the hospital from the scene of fighting had died from their wounds. Among them was a baby who was shot while strapped to his mother's back. Two people, including the dead child's mother, were evacuated to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, for further treatment. Another four people with gunshot wounds were still at the hospital undergoing treatment but were said to be in stable condition.
The flux of the ongoing conflict between warring sub-clans has at times urged the Kenyan government to maintain an open border policy, allowing fleeing families into the country during the day.
The Transitional National Government (TNG) in Somalia, founded in 2000, has been gradually more isolated over last years, and controls now only parts of Mogadishu and pockets elsewhere in Somalia. It has lost virtually all support from the military factions, and was exposed to another severe setback recently when the powerful Somali warlord and faction leader Hassan Mohamed Nur proclaimed yet another autonomous Somali state based in his stronghold Baidoa.
"South-western Somalia" is the third region to break with Mogadishu after the collapse of central government there in 1991.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has appealed to the Kenya government to shelter the displaced until the situation in Bula Hawa returns to normal.
By Knut Henrik Gjone