Kenya Refuses To Let In Refugees

NAIROBI, Kenya (PANA)- Kenya has formally refused to allow into its territory thousands of people the UN High Commissioner for Refugees tried to bring in from Ethiopia last week.
The refugees who include men, women and children are currently stranded at the 'no man's land' at the Kenya-Ethiopia border town of Moyale, after their repatriation bid 2 November went sour.

The North Eastern provincial commissioner, Maurice Makhanu, was categorical that the 4,700 men, women and children were impostors.

He said Tuesday on telephone from Garissa, the provincial headquarters, that Nairobi was surprised by Ethiopia's claim that these were Kenyans who had been living as refugees in that country.

He noted that reports of such people had not been raised in previous bilateral meetings between the two countries.

Makhanu, however, admitted that in 1992, close to 10,000 Kenyan Degodia and Ajuran Somalis had moved to Ethiopia with their livestock due to ethnic violence, but that they had all returned to Kenya.

The administrator said there was something sinister about the people who were brought to Moyale by the UNHCR and the Ethiopian government, arguing that the said refugees now had no cattle.

The Ethiopian authorities had only hinted that there were Kenyan refugees living in camps in the country without substantiation.

Kenyan officials who met their Ethiopian counterparts in Moyale in October for bilateral talks were denied access to inspect the alleged camps, Makhanu charged.

The saga of the refugees started 1 November, when Kenyan authorities barred them from entering the country after they had been brought to Moyale by the UNHCR using aircraft and trucks.

Kenya's minister in charge of internal security, Maj.Marsden Madoka said the refugees would not be allowed to enter the country as they did not have Kenyan identification documents.

However, the refugees claimed Ethiopian authorities had confiscated their Kenyan identification documents.

The UNHCR representative, Millicent Mtuli, has warned of a humanitarian catastrophe, with the refugees reportedly running short of food and other emergency provisions.

He said that the agency had no funds to maintain them at the Moyale transit centre and called for an urgent solution to the crisis.

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