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Wednesday, 7 March, 2001, 16:01 GMT
Zanzibar refugees end hunger strike
Zanzibari refugees in Shimoni
Conditions are cramped in Shimoni camp
More than 2,000 refugees who fled violence on the Tanzanian islands of Zanzibar have called off their hunger strike at a camp near the Kenyan port of Mombasa.

The refugees at Shimoni camp are protesting against Kenya's decision to move a number of them to camps in the north-east of the country.

The three-day strike ended after a visit to Shimoni by Muslim leaders from Mombasa, who promised to use their influence with the government to get the relocation plans changed.


If the Kenya government cannot protect us from our enemy, let them hand us over to them to kill us... but we are not moving to Daadab

Pemba MP Bidawa Hamadi
The Kenyan Government says it wants to relocate some of the group's leaders, who include 16 MPs of the opposition Civic United Front, because it cannot guarantee their safety.

The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, say the refugees are mainly political activists from Pemba, who fled in boats to the Kenyan coast after clashes with police in January left about 30 people dead.

Unhappy

The refugees say they are unhappy at being sent to a desert area where conditions would be too harsh - and that it would be a long way from home.


But the current camp is small, sanitation is a problem and heavy rains are expected soon.

A Kenyan official said the decision to relocate the refugees to Daadab would not be swayed by a hunger strike.

"The government is very concerned about the security of these people and we cannot play around with their lives," said Home Affairs offical Nimrod Waweru

Harassment

Those in Shimoni say they have come because of continued harassment, detention and torture by the authorities on Pemba.

Civic United Front supporter beaten by riot police
Police brutality on Pemba prompted them to flee
An MP from Pemba, Mrs Bidawa Bakari Hamadi, said the leaders and all the refugees had agreed not to move to Daadab.

"If the Kenya government cannot protect us from our enemy, let them hand us over to them to kill us or put us in vessels and throw us into the sea but we are not moving to Daadab," she said.

The opposition Civic United Front (CUF) want a re-run of last October's elections which international observers said were not free and fair.

But the government says no new elections will take place.

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See also:

02 Mar 01 | Africa
Eyewitness: Suspicion on Pemba
06 Feb 01 | Africa
Zanzibar MPs flee to Kenya
02 Feb 01 | Africa
Zanzibar's shattered peace
05 Feb 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Tanzania
31 Oct 00 | Africa
Zanzibar: Braced for trouble
30 Oct 00 | Africa
Violence after Zanzibar vote row
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