Corrupt and violent Kenyan police abuse and extort money from hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled volatile Somalia, a human rights watchdog said on Monday.

Kenyan officials did not immediately comment on the report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), which also accused the authorities of forcibly deporting hundreds of asylum seekers desperate to reach the world’s largest refugee settlement.

More than 250,000 people eke out a living in Dadaab’s three overcrowded camps near the Somali border in the arid and impoverished northeast of Kenya, the region’s biggest economy.

Aid agencies expect to see 100,000 new arrivals there this year as a tide of Somalis flee the conflict between an Islamist-led insurgency and the new government in the capital Mogadishu.

“People escaping the violence in Somalia need protection and help, but instead face more danger, abuse and deprivation,” said the report, “From Horror to Hopelessness: Kenya’s forgotten Somali Refugee Crisis”.

More than 17,000 civilians have been killed in two years of fighting in the failed Horn of Africa state. More than a million people have fled their homes and a third of the population — more than three million people — depend on emergency food aid.

The pro-al Qaeda militant group al Shabaab, which controls large swathes of southern and central Somalia, is the main obstacle for Somalia’s new president, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, who is trying to restore peace after 18 years of violence.

The author of the report, Gerry Simpson, said the Dadaab camps were likely to become fertile recruiting grounds for al Shabaab if living conditions there do not improve


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