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Somali Christian Refugees Attacked in Kenya

October 2, 2006

BosNewsLife News Center

Christian refugees from neighboring Somalia faced another difficult day, Monday, October 2, in Kenya amid reported attacks from Somali militants and a struggle to receive adequate assistance to survive.

Over 3,400 Somalis fleeing Islamic violence have sought refuge in Kenya in the last three weeks, bringing the tally to almost 25,000 since the beginning of the year, according to estimates.

“It appears that as the [Islamic militant group] Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) gains further ground in Somalia , there is a corresponding increase in attacks on Somali Christians in Kenya,” by UIC supporters, said human rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), which supports persecuted Christians.

Local Christian sources have also said there are “many proxy representatives of the Islamic Shari’ah Courts in Nairobi ,” the capital of Kenya . As an example, CSW mentioned a Christian family allegedly suffering because of Islamic violence.

FAMILY FEAR

It said one Somali Christian refugee, who it referred to only as A, “left Somalia with his family in fear of his life. Since their arrival in Kenya , A’s family has repeatedly been threatened by supporters of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC),” CSW explained.

“A is currently recovering from an assault in July that left him comatose yet last [week] September 27 A and his family were attacked again.”

CSW added that, “Three of A’s children have been abducted by his Muslim relatives and allegedly returned to Somalia where they may be enrolled in a ‘rehabilitation’ center. Two more of his children were abducted, but were rescued when the authorities were pressurized to act.”

UN CRITICIZED

Local Christians have complained that the Kenyan office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) may not provided enough support to Somali Christians. The UN has in the past denied discrimination on the base of ethnicity or religion.

However, “Since the UNHCR’s central office in Switzerland takes its lead from the Kenya office, the organization has been slow in taking effective action,” CSW commented.

“Having suffered already in Somalia these Christian refugees face a double tragedy when they encounter further hardship and persecution in Kenya ,” CSW Advocacy Director Tina Lambert told BosNewsLife in a statement. “Their situation is deeply concerning and it is vital that the international community mobilize behind the UNHCR to ensure urgent protection for these Somali refugees and their families,” Lambert said.