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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 November 2007, 12:36 GMT
Somali refugees on hunger strike
Mogadishu residents leave the city with their possessions - 9/11/2007
Most of Mogadishu's residents have fled says the UNHCR
Some 30 Somali refugees held at Nairobi airport awaiting deportation have gone on hunger strike, a rights group says.

Their protest comes one day after Kenya flew 18 Somalis back to Mogadishu, despite pleas that they were fleeing the fighting there.

The UN refugee agency says it has been denied access to any of the refugees.

The head of the Muslim Rights Forum in Kenya, Ali-Amin Kimathi, said it was a violation of international law to return refugees to a war zone.

But Kenya, which closed its border with Somalia in January, said it was following normal repatriation procedures.

"They are not being deported, but being taken back to where they came from. It is standard procedure," airport police commander Joseph Mumira told reporters.

Denied entry

The 50-strong group of refugees was among a group that had taken commercial flights through Nairobi for Entebbe, Uganda, but were sent back by the Ugandan authorities allegedly because their passports were not in order.

"We tried to access them but we were told that we need authorisation from the ministry of immigration, which we are still looking for," UNHCR spokesman Emmanuel Nyabera told the French news agency AFP.

The UNHCR says more than one million Somalis are homeless and 60% of Mogadishu residents have fled their homes - 200,000 in the past two weeks alone.

The refugee agency says people have been forced out by intense fighting between Islamist insurgents and the Ethiopian-backed government forces.


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