33 000 Somalis flee surge in fighting

2011-04-09 07:12

Geneva - An estimated 33 000 Somalis have fled fighting in central and south Somalia in the past six weeks, as the tally of displaced people rose to more than 1.4 million, the UN refugee agency said on Friday.

Some of the clashes between the government and the al-Qaeda-inspired Shabaab militia took place near the Kenyan border, including shelling in the town of Dhoobley as it was taken over by pro-government forces earlier this week, the agency said.

"UNHCR is monitoring a deteriorating situation in south and central Somalia," Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told journalists.

"UNHCR estimates that clashes... have displaced about 33 000 Somalis over the past six weeks," about half of them people who had already fled from the capital Mogadishu, he added.

"In all more than 1.4 million people are displaced inside Somalia."

The UNHCR said more than 31 000 Somalis have fled to Kenya so far this year, as the refugee flow grew steadily over the past three months.

Kenya now hosts more than half of the 680 000 Somalis who have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, according to the agency.

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