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UN agency repatriates last group of Tanzanian refugees from Kenya

UN agency repatriates last group of Tanzanian refugees from Kenya

The last group of Tanzanian refugees who fled civil disturbances to Kenya earlier this year began repatriating by air this morning, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today.

A UNHCR-chartered aircraft made two flights today from Dadaab camp to Pemba Island, agency spokesman Kris Janowski told reporters in Geneva. Two more flights will follow Wednesday from Dadaab, in northeastern Kenya, to Zanzibar, returning the final 86 Tanzanian islanders still in the camp.

More than 2,000 people, mostly residents of Pemba sympathetic to the opposition Civic United Front (CUF), left that island and Zanzibar by boat earlier this year for the Kenyan coastal town of Shimoni after CUF supporters and Tanzanian security forces clashed on 27 January, Mr. Janowski said.

Meanwhile, four days of torrential rains and high winds at Kakuma in northwestern Kenya have destroyed over 7,000 refugee huts, leaving more than a quarter of the camp population without shelter and raising serious health concerns for the population of 81,000, Mr. Janowski said.

Kakuma, which hosts primarily Sudanese refugees, is located in an arid region, some 800 kilometres northwest of Nairobi. It receives about 500 millimetres of rainfall annually. "Staff at the site called the heavy rains 'unprecedented,' Mr. Janowski said. "Family shelters are usually constructed of dried mud and branches, with thatch and plastic sheeting used for roofing. Many of the huts were old and unable to withstand the heavy rains."