Calm has returned to a refugee camp in Kenya after recent deadly fighting prompted relief workers to withdraw from the site, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today.
Kris Janowski, a UNHCR spokesman, told reporters in Geneva that seven Sudanese refugees were killed and scores of others injured in fighting in Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya after clashes broke out late Sunday between rival groups.
The fighting among Sudanese from the Bor and Bahr el Ghazal regions is said to have started between two refugees at a water trench in the camp, which houses over 60,000 people. "The clashes reportedly continued yesterday, although no further casualties were reported," Mr. Janowski said, adding that Kenyan police on patrol were now keeping the two groups apart.
As a security measure, UNHCR and staff of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been temporarily withdrawn from the camp area, but essential services are continuing, the spokesman said.
Yesterday, UNHCR officials and members of the local Kenyan administration met with refugee leaders from the feuding communities. Another meeting is planned for Wednesday.
In 1998, a similar flare-up left six refugees dead and several others seriously injured in the same camp, according to UNHCR. "Conflicts and tensions in Sudan itself have been occasionally reflected in hostility between different groups of refugees in Kakuma camp," Mr. Janowski observed.