Kenya: Country Halts Somali Asylum Seekers January 3, 2007Posted to the web January 3, 2007 Nairobi
Several thousand asylum seekers fleeing recent fighting in Somalia have been stranded for days near the border with neighbouring Kenya which has blocked their entry, aid workers said on Wednesday. According to local community workers in the Dobley area of Somalia (about 30 km from the border), the people trying to enter Kenya were mainly women and children.
"We understand that there are security concerns, but we hope that the right of those seeking asylum will be respected," said Amanda Di Lorenzo, spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA-Somalia). The condition of the asylum seekers, she added, was unknown because no humanitarian agency had been able to reach them. "Access is pretty limited in that area," said Di Lorenzo. The Kenyan authorities have beefed up security along the border, citing security concerns. But according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), some 394 Somalis who had crossed the border since fighting flared up in their country about a week ago, have also been sent back.