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Somali refugees facing danger and obstacles on their flight to safety

The numbers of refugees arriving in Yemen and Kenya - countries which have traditionally borne the brunt of Somalian refugees – have fallen sharply despite violence and human rights abuses in Somalia which continue to displace thousands of civilians internally. It is estimated that more than 200,000 Somalis have been forced to leave their homes this year alone.

Due to insecurity and a lack of access to many parts of the country, UNHCR and other humanitarian organisations providing aid now face great difficulties as internally displaced people are in urgent need of support. 

According to new arrivals, the falling number of refugees is due to the grave danger and difficulty of fleeing Somalia, many are effectively trapped. There are reportedly several checkpoints on the road from Mogadishu to the northern port of Bossaso from where boats and smugglers operate, manned by different armed groups.

In Kenya, many refugees are telling us they have fled insecurity and indiscriminate fighting between government forces and armed militias but risked forced recruitment and abuse in attempting to leave. Transport to the border is often sporadic or too expensive while the rainy season has made some roads impassable. Many refugees arriving in Kenya have walked for days often without any shelter.

There are now almost 600,000 Somali refugees in the region - some 323,000 in Kenya, another 164,000 were registered at reception centres in Yemen on arrival, and 72,000 in Ethiopia. After Afghanistan and Iraq, Somalia is generating the largest number of refugees in the world in addition to more than 1.4 million people who are internally displaced.

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