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Kenya criticized on Somali refugees

  |   Dec. 8, 2010 at 11:06 AM
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Kenya's policy on Somali refugees is threatening thousands of lives, Amnesty International said Wednesday.

In December 2006, Kenya closed the Somali border, saying it was keeping al-Qaida-linked fighters out. But Somalis have continued to flow across the loosely guarded frontier.

"Continued fighting and horrendous abuses in Somalia pose a very real threat to the lives of tens of thousands of children, women and men. No Somali should be forcibly returned," said Michelle Kagari of Amnesty International's Africa Program.

Last month, 8,000 refugees who had fled the Somali town of Belet Hawo after fighting there were ordered back into Somalia, Amnesty said. Kenyan police forced 3,000 of them further into Somalia, the group alleged.

"Many Somalis have no option but to cross into Kenya," the group said. "Kenya's closure of the screening center near the border ... means no Somali is registered immediately and that nobody is screened. Inevitably, this does nothing to address Kenya's national security concerns."

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