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Nairobi - The United Nations will open a new refugee camp in northern Kenya to shelter a possible influx of Sudanese and South Sudanese fleeing escalating conflict between their two countries.
Kenya has received more than 100 000 Sudanese refugees since 2007 despite the official end of a civil war in 2005 in the country straddling one of Africa's most significant oil reserves.
The Kakuma camp in Kenya's arid north near the South Sudanese border can host 100,000 refugees. Officials say its population currently stands at 94 000.
“In the next two to three months, we are concerned the camp will be full,” Emmanuel Nyabera, the U.N. refugee agency's spokesman in Kenya, told Reuters.
“We are receiving 100 refugees from South Sudan each and every day.”
Nyabera said the government and the local community had identified a site called Kalobeyey with capacity for 80 000 people, located some 25 km from Kakuma.
“Now we are finalising the paperwork so that we can start preparing it in the event that there is an influx from Sudan and South Sudan,” he said.
Sudan's civil war ended with a peace agreement in 2005 but people in Unity border state worry that repeated border clashes in the past three weeks will erupt into all-out war, nine months after South Sudan became independent.
Sudan and South Sudan have been locked in a dispute over oil exports since July. The row pushed Juba to halt production of 350 000 barrels per day in protest after Sudan began taking some oil from the South for what it said were unpaid export fees.
The latest skirmishes are concentrated in the oil-rich regions which straddle the contested border. - Reuters