UN: Ethiopian pull-out sparks Somali refugee influx

Ethiopia’s pull-out from Somalia has sparked an influx of refugees from its war-torn neighbour, with about 150 people crossing daily since January 25, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday.

Addis Ababa withdrew all its forces last month after an ill-fated two-year occupation, triggering security fears.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said more than 10 000 refugees had fled since the beginning of the year, with 150 a day crossing the border since the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces on January 25.

“The influx has increased after Ethiopian forces ended their two-year presence in Somalia last month,” it said in a statement.

“Information gathered during informal discussions with many of them revealed they fled general insecurity and fear of mistreatment by al-Shabaab,” it added.

Al-Shabaab is the militant wing of an Islamist movement ousted by the Ethiopian troops in early 2007 after they deployed to back an embattled Somali government.

They carried out deadly attacks against the Ethiopians after being toppled and continue to ambush government targets and African Union forces in the capital, Mogadishu. — AFP

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