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UN to Set up New Camp for Somali Refugees in Kenya
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The UN refugee agency UNHCR said Thursday it was expanding camps for Somali refugees in eastern Kenya to accommodate an increasing number of people fleeing Somalia.

 A UN news release said an estimated 2,000 refugees have arrived in Kenya from Somalia via the Liboi border post since last Friday.

"A UN agency is likely to open a new camp in North Eastern Province to accommodate the rising number of refugees from Somalia. Most of the new arrivals are women and children from Mogadishu, Kismayu and Baidoa," the news release said.

It said at least 1,300 refugees on Monday jammed a temporary reception center set up by UNHCR on the Kenyan-Somali border, adding to the 30,000 Somalis who have already crossed into Kenya so far this year.

"However, the establishment of a new camp will only be undertaken with the approval of the Government of Kenya," UNHCR spokesman in Nairobi Emmanuel Nyabera said.

"If the number continued to grow, then another camp would be opened at Dadaab. We are really concerned about the large number of refugees who continue to arrive every day," Nyabera said.

The refugees are fleeing fighting between the Transitional Federal Government and the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which are contesting control of Buur Hakaba, a strategic town between Baidoa, where the government is based, and the capital Mogadishu, which is held by the ICU.

Nyabera said the UNHCR was in the process of expanding the three camps in Dadaab with more than 143,000 refugees, the majority being from Somalia.

"Only a week ago, there were 134,000 refugees in the three camps Ifo, Hagadera and Dagahaley but the number has since risen," said Nyabera, noting that most of the new arrivals were being settled in Hagadera and Dagahaley.

"We require more funds to help the growing number of refugees. So far, we have received 108 million shillings (about US$1.5 million) for current operation from the German Government and the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund," he said.

The latest arrivals have told aid workers they left their country because of rising tensions between armed groups there, including rivalry between the Transitional Federal Government and the Union of Islamic Courts, which has extended its authority to much of southern Somalia since it seized control of Mogadishu, the capital, from an alliance of armed faction leaders.

The flaring tension in Somalia by rival groups has cast doubts over the planned resumption of the third round of peace talks between the government and the Islamists in Khartoum on October 30.

(Xinhua News Agency October 13, 2006)

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