The number of refugees in 10 countries in Eastern Africa has risen to nearly 1.4 million, an eight per cent increase since September, the United Nations humanitarian office said today in an update that shows that the majority of the new asylum-seekers travelled to Kenya and Ethiopia.
Kenya received more than 50,000 of the total number of 103,874 new refugees, while some 19,000 entered Ethiopia. The majority of the refugees going to the two countries were Somalis fleeing drought and conflict in their homeland, according to the report prepared by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
In relative terms, the increase of refugees in Djibouti – 17 per cent – is also noteworthy, OCHA said.
The rise in the number of refugees in Tanzania was largely due to a revision of the number of Burundians, which now includes more than 22,000 refugees settled in Tanzanian villages and awaiting integration by the Government into the local communities, with support from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) across the entire region was estimated at nearly 4.1 million at the end of March, an overall decrease of 3 per cent over a six-month period.
The was attributed to several factors, including a steady decline in the number of IDPs in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) following a reduction in the intensity of the conflict there between September 2010 and January.
But there were significant increases in the IDP population in DRC’s South Kivu and Orientale provinces due to attacks blamed on elements of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).