Refugees face grim future in Somalia

July 12, 2012 at 12:43 PM
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NAIROBI, Kenya, July 12 (UPI) -- The humanitarian toll of ongoing security challenges in Somalia is undermining the country's long-term future, a humanitarian official said.

The mandate for the interim administration in Somalia ends later this year, though the country has few of the administrative instruments in place that are representative of a functioning central government.

Kenyan forces are supporting African units in propping up the administration in Mogadishu as it struggles for control against separatist movements and al-Shabaab militias seeking to establish an Islamist state.

Conflict and a severe drought in 2011 forced tens of thousands of people to flee Somalia. Stephen Vaughan, director of the Kenyan branch of humanitarian group CARE, said it's the refugees who suffer the most.

"As well as the human cost, there is also a cost to security in the region," he told the BBC. "If children are not going to school and if people do not have proper shelter and other services, this has the potential to fuel further militarization, violence and instability."

The British broadcaster estimates at least 500,000 people call a refugee camp in Kenya near the Somali border home.

Oxfam, Save the Children and other groups have issued an urgent appeal for support as the government in Mogadishu struggles to gain a foothold in the country.

"Refugee camps are only temporary solutions and the situation is increasingly untenable," said Oxfam's director in Kenya Nigel Tricks.

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