More Somali refugees flee to Kenya

, NAIROBI, Kenya, March 28 – More than 20,000 Somalis have fled to Kenya since the start of this year, the UN refugee agency has said, warning that refugee camps are "completely overstretched."

The new arrivals have been registered in north-eastern Kenya’s Dadaab camp complex, which was built for 90,000 people but which now accommodates over 261,000, said Ron Redmond, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

"We have been negotiating with the government of Kenya to provide land for the construction of new camps, but this is yet to be finalised," he said.

"We are therefore receiving and accommodating these refugees with a lot of difficulty," he added, repeating a warning the UNHCR made last month.

"We fear that the situation may further deteriorate once the rainy season begins due to the shelter constraints," said Redmond, noting that the rainy season begins early April.

The UN agency said that new land was "crucial" to prepare for more arrivals.

In 2008, some 60,000 Somalis fled to Kenya from their lawless and war-ravaged country.

Redmond said new arrivals this year were citing increased insecurity, coupled with drought and food shortages, as main reasons for fleeing their homes.