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Monday, 23 April, 2001, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Zanzibar refugees in stand-off
Opposition supporter being attacked by Zanzibar police
The refugees fled violence on Zanzibar
Zanzibari refugees in Kenya are resisting attempts to move them from their present camp in Shimoni on the Indian Ocean coast in the south-east of the country.

Kenyan officials warned the 1,500 refugees that they will be forcibly moved if they continue to resist.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) is currently trying to negotiate with Kenyan officials over the resettlement.

The refugees complain that the conditions in the new camp in Dadaab in the dessert area north-east of the country are too harsh.

Transport provided

Kenyan authorities sent buses and policemen to Shimoni to transport the refugees to Dadaab.

But the refugees have not boarded the buses.

Dadaab is one of two official camps in Kenya where refugees are housed.

The Kenyan Government has always said that the camp in Shimoni was a temporary base.

The Zanzibaris say that they prefer to be by the coast and closer to Zanzibar rather than dropped in the middle of the country.

If they do move, the Zanzibaris will join about 120,000 southern Sudanese and Somali refugees in Dadaab.

Objections

Refugees objected to the relocation plans at the beginning of March with some of them embarking on a hunger strike.

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

It seems that the government has not dropped its plans.

The refugees fled Zanzibar in following clashes between opposition activists and government soldiers in January over allegations that last year's elections were rigged.

They say they do not want to return to Zanzibar as they fear being prosecuted by the authorities there.

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See also:

06 Feb 01 | Africa
Zanzibar MPs flee to Kenya
02 Feb 01 | Africa
Zanzibar's shattered peace
30 Oct 00 | Africa
Violence after Zanzibar vote row
02 Mar 01 | Africa
Eyewitness: Suspicion on Pemba
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