Kenya: Fears of Refugee Influx as Famine Strikes Somalia

A Somali refugee carries his son as he hurries to join a new line outside a registration and food distribution point [Roberto Schmidt/AFP]

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The widely publicised repatriation of thousands of Somalia refugees from Kenya is in jeopardy after the United Nations announced a devastating four-year famine in Somalia.

Stakeholders now say this is likely to cause an influx of even more refugees until the humanitarian situation in that country improves.

The UN on Monday announced an extreme scarcity of food in many regions of Somalia, some of which the Kenyan government and aid agencies expect refugees to return.

At least a million Somalis face starvation, according to the UN’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network.

Some refugees now expected to return fled into Kenya following a similar drought in 2010.

“The levels of food insecurity and malnutrition (in Somalia) are critical. Humanitarian actors and donors have prevented the situation being a lot worse than it is, but we all need to do more,” UN aid chief for Somalia Peter de Clercq said in a statement.

“The situation among internally displaced people is particularly worrying.”

In an agreement signed in November 2013 among Kenya, Somalia and the UNHCR, the slightly less than half a million Somali refugees were expected to go home over a five year period.

The three parties have initially earmarked nine districts in Somalia’s South Central regions including Kismayu and Mogadishu for refugees returns, regions that are now said in the grip of famine.

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