About 100 new refugees from were arriving daily by boat at the Kenyan coastal town of Shimoni due to a reported crackdown on opposition activists in Zanzibar and Pemba, UNHCR said last Tuesday. The refugees spoke of continued arrests, detention and torture of opposition members by the Tanzanian authorities. They also talked of systematic break-ins at the homes of opposition CUF members in the two isles. UNHCR has registered 1,630 refugees since 27 January when an anti-government demonstration sparked bloody clashes between the security forces and opposition supporters.
UNHCR quoted the refugees as saying that more people were likely to flee if the reported crackdown continued. UNHCR added that the number of refugees in Shimoni could rise to 2,000 by the end of the week, “putting a huge strain on the tiny harbour town”. “Many of the refugees lack adequate shelter and are sleeping outdoors,” the agency said. “Sanitation facilities at the site are insufficient for a large number of people confined to a fisheries compound at the bay. Water is being trucked daily from Kenya’s port city of Mombasa, some 160 km north.” The agency in consultation with the local authorities has identified a new site on the outskirts of Shimoni where more adequate lodging can be provided. “The final decision regarding possible use of the site rests with the Kenyan government,” it stated.