Somalia: News Briefs, 5/5/99

Somalia: News Briefs, 5/5/99

SOMALIA: IRIN News Briefs, 5 May

UNHCR to consider voluntary repatriations from Kenya

UNHCR is to look at the possibility of Somali refugees' voluntary return from camps in Kenya to their own country, the agency said on Tuesday, after Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi claimed they were contributing to crime and insecurity.

"We appreciate the government's concern for security in northeastern Kenya," a UNHCR spokeswoman told IRIN. "We are going to be looking into ways of supporting the government's efforts in maintaining security, and also look at the possibilities for the voluntary return for refugees to safe parts of Somalia."

Kenya is hosting 108,000 Somali refugees in three camps in northeast Kenya, which is mainly inhabited by ethnic Somalis.

President Moi called on the UN to repatriate Somali refugees during a tour of the northeast, saying they "abused their local hosts by smuggling firearms and contributing to insecurity", Kenya's 'Daily Nation' reported on Tuesday.

Kidnappers release Finnish tourists

Two Finnish tourists abducted by Somali gunmen off the northeast coast have been released and are in the care of UN officials in Somalia, media sources reported on Wednesday. The Finns, a man and a woman, were said to be in good health and awaiting their return to Finland. They were reportedly sailing to the Seychelles when they were kidnapped.

On 21 April, gunmen used a small boat to intercept the yacht and forced it to dock a few miles from Bosasso port, according to a Reuters report. The Somali Salvation Democratic Front faction claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. Last year gunmen freed two French nationals, kidnapped from a yacht in almost the same spot, after two months.

Top RRA officer missing after weekend fighting in Baidoa

A top officer in the Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA) was said by the RRA to be missing, presumed captured or dead, after the militia battled with forces of faction leader Hussein Aideed for control of the south-central town of Baidoa at the weekend, AFP reported. Colonel Ahmadey Omar was in charge of an attack during which the town was seized on Saturday, before the RRA lost it again to Aideed's forces on Sunday.

Aideed rejects reports that Bin Laden is in Somalia

Faction leader Hussein Aideed's militia on Monday rejected reports that the alleged Saudi terrorism financier, Osama Bin Laden, is in Somalia. In a statement issued in Nairobi, reported by DPA news agency, it said that if he were to seek refuge there, all efforts would be made to hand him over to the authorities in Kenya, where he is wanted for questioning in connection with last year's US embassy bombing.

UNICEF immunises over 80,000 children against measles

UNICEF has immunised more than 80,000 malnourished and internally displaced children against measles in southern Somalia and, with improved access to the Bay and Bakool areas, has revised its immunisation target upward to 200,000 children, a UNICEF Somalia spokeswoman told IRIN on Wednesday.

Having initially had a target of 60,000 people, UNICEF and its partners have overcome security problems to vaccinate an additional 20,000 through "piggy-backing" on emergency food distribution convoys and water source rehabilitation projects. With this process providing new access to the Bay and Bakool regions, where regular health services have been suspended since September 1995, UNICEF hopes to avert the danger - witnessed during previous crises - of infection and disease sweeping through physically and psychologically vulnerable communities, the spokeswoman said.


Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 18:40:12 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: SOMALIA: News Briefs [19990505]

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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