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As more flee Somalia, world's largest refugee camp feels the pressure

Five hundred people are arriving daily at an overcrowded aid camp in Kenya. Fighting has driven more than 159,000 from Mogadishu.

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They are coming in ones and twos, families and friends, on donkeys and in trucks, dressed in the clothes they were wearing when the mortars landed or the battlewagons buzzed through the streets outside their homes.

Thousands of Somalis in search of safety are arriving at an overcrowded aid camp over the border with Kenya in search of safety. More than 159,000 people have fled the capital, Mogadishu, in the latest upsurge in fighting.

Zamzam Hussein Farrah had to gather up as many of her children as she could find and run. Her journey to Dadaab – the world's biggest refugee camp – took her a month of hitching rides and walking.

"My husband went to the market and then there was fighting," says Ms. Farrah, sitting on a rickety wooden bench to begin the process of registering with the United Nations. "When the fighting started, we fled in different directions."

She arrived 11 days ago with four children. She has no idea where her husband is, or even if he is alive. There is no word, either, of her fifth child, who was with her mother.

There are dozens of similar stories among the families gathered around the simple wooden huts where they register for vaccinations, food, and shelter.

Al Shabab's brazen display of 'justice'

The latest fighting pitches the Islamist Al Shabab movement against the interim government, which has struggled to assert any authority since being formed in 2004. A moderate Islamist, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, won the presidency early this year.

Three years ago, his Union of Islamic Courts brought stability to Somalia before being defeated by Ethiopian troops. His Islamist background raised hopes that extremists could be brought back into the fold – hopes that have so far not been realized.


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