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U.N. appeals for Kenya food aid

250,000 need help in refugee camps, agency says

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(CNN) -- The United Nations' World Food Program (WFP) appealed Tuesday for $6.7 million to feed nearly a quarter of a million Sudanese and Somali refugees living in camps in Kenya.

Despite peace efforts in Somalia and Sudan, the number of refugees fleeing to Kenya from those two eastern African countries remains high, according to the WFP.

The agency warned Tuesday that without further donations to purchase more than 11,000 metric tons of food, maize, corn-soya blend, oil and other rations would run out by October, and wheat and salt supplies would be exhausted a month later.

"These people are caught between a rock and a hard place. If they return home, they will face the incredible challenge of finding food and water. Yet by staying here in Kenya, they face another uncertainty -- whether they will eat or not," WFP Kenya Country Director Tesema Negash said Tuesday.

Kenyan law stipulates that refugees must live in the northern and eastern parts of that county, areas plagued by poverty, the WFP said.

Negash said refugee numbers were expected to drop after a January peace agreement to end a 21-year war in south Sudan and the creation of an interim Somali government in Jowhar, Somalia, some eight months ago.

But the number of Sudanese refugees has surged because of limited food, shelter and health facilities, scarce jobs and inter-clan violence in their home country. The WFP estimates that 91,000 Sudanese refugees now live in the Kenyan camp of Kakuma.

The 140,000 Somali refugees, living in the Dadaab camp, also show no sign of leaving, the WFP said.

Negash said of the WFP's plea for further aid: "While the international community often responds to new upheavals and natural disasters, long-standing refugee situations, where hundreds of thousands of people depend on food and other aid, are often overlooked and are last in the line for international assistance."

The WFP customarily aims its appeals at a broad spectrum of national governments, corporations and individuals.

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