Aid groups report Somali exodus

June 28, 2011 at 10:58 AM
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MOGADISHU, Somalia, June 28 (UPI) -- More than 1,000 people are fleeing the conflict and drought in Somalia to neighboring Kenya every day, an aid agency says.

Conflict between forces loyal to the transitional government in Somalia and al-Qaida-affiliated al-Shabaab is exacerbated by a pervasive drought gripping most of the Horn of Africa.

Al-Shabaab is attempting to create an Islamic state in Somalia, which hasn't had a functioning government since the 1990s. The al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist group has declared war on the African Union peacekeeping force in the war-torn country.

The aid group Save the Children says it estimates about 1,300 people are fleeing Somalia to neighboring Kenya every day. The U.N. refugee agency said 31,000 people have fled to Ethiopia.

Drought is expected to continue across the region for the next five months. The U.N. World Food Program estimates 58 percent of the population in the south of Somalia is affected by drought.

"We are not working in areas of the south controlled by al-Shabaab after our teams were threatened, intimidated and there were demands for payment," Peter Smerdon, an official working with the WFP, told the BBC.

Smerdon added that perhaps 1 million people are beyond the reach of his agency.

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