'Kenya overwhelmed by Somali refugees'
Sun Aug 14, 2011 9:16AM
Interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, an editor of Pan-African News Wire
Despite pressure from the United Nations and international aid agencies, Kenya continues to oppose an extension camp for famine-stricken Somali refugees.
This has highlighted the huge divide between the Kenyan government and aid organizations.
In an interview with Press TV, Abayomi Azikiwe, an editor of Pan-African News Wire, discusses the situation in Somali.
Press TV: Tell us more about why Kenya is opposing the extension camp. Is the surge of refugees too much to cope with for Kenya?
Azikiwe: We have to understand that Kenya, as well, is being impacted by the drought. This is the worst drought that the Horn of Africa and east Africa has experienced in the last 60 years.
They have been flooded with tens of thousands of migrants who have come there from Somalia over the last several weeks. Fortunately, a number of people are in the capital of Mogadishu, which is also causing a lot of problems there as well.
But I believe the king and government are really overwhelmed. They have not been getting the type of assistance from the Unites States and from other western-based humanitarian organizations.
This is a monumental crisis that the country is facing at this time. They have been heavily involved in a civil war in Somalia for the last nearly five years.
The US is currently supporting the transitional federal government that is largely based in Mogadishu. They are being backed up by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). But there are just not enough resources for the king and government to deal with this monumental crisis.
We have to understand that we have tens of thousands of people that have been flooding not only Kenya but also into the capital Mogadishu, as well as many going into Ethiopia as well.
Press TV: How has the international response been to the famine in Somalia? Aid agencies are facing difficulties due to the magnitude of the disaster, what can be done to get more aid in and to facilitate more people with more basic necessities?
Azikiwe: I think the US in particular would redirect some of the resources that is being utilized to back up the AMISOM forces in Mogadishu, and to provide more resources in regard to distributing humanitarian relief, we go along way.
The Al-Shabab Islamic resistance organization practically withdrew from the capital of Mogadishu. They control most of the city. It's only the AMISOM and the national transitional government that controls the central part of the city, and the international airport there.
Also, we have to understand that the US, as well as the European Union, has flotillas of warships off the coast of Somalia, in the Gulf of Aden. These ships which are there are sensibly to fight against piracy in that region could be utilized by the transportation of humanitarian relief as well.
And also we have to understand that both the government and king of Ethiopia have very close ties with the United States. They could utilize those political and economic links to provide assistance for the people who are fleeing the country, as well as transporting assistance in the capital of Mogadishu.