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Nearly 100,000 Have Fled War in Somalia, Officials Say

January 26, 1991|From United Press International

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Nearly 100,000 refugees have fled war-torn Somalia into neighboring countries in the past month, as fighting in the Somali capital of Mogadishu has reduced the city to chaos, officials said Friday.

Most of the refugees have fled north and west to Ethiopia, where an Interior Ministry spokesman said 84,000 refugees had arrived in four weeks. About half of these, according to United Nations figures, were "refugee refugees," long-term Ethiopian fugitives from the 1977-78 Ogaden war with Somalia who have now fled back to their homeland.

At least 10,000 refugees have also fled southwest to Kenya, where President Daniel Arap Moi appealed Friday to his countrymen to make them as welcome as possible.

The refugees are running from a bloody war that broke out in earnest in late December when rebels of the United Somali Congress moved into Mogadishu to take on President Mohamed Siad Barre. In a repeat performance of the anarchy that last year swept Liberia, rebels and government troops killed hundreds of innocent civilians, shelled the city indiscriminately and put relief agencies and all Western embassies to flight.

Many of the refugees to Ethiopia--about 50,000--have crossed the border at Ferfer, 530 miles southeast of Addis Ababa. Others have crossed farther south, close to where Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia meet.

The ministry spokesman noted that only about half of the refugees entering Ethiopia were Somalis. The remainder were actually Ethiopians, refugees from the Ethiopia-Somalia Ogaden war who have been awaiting repatriation for more than a decade.

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