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About 50,000 refugees herding flocks of camels and goats have fled the civil war in neighboring Somalia and sought sanctuary in Ethiopia, officials said Saturday.

Relief workers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said 60,000 others were massed on the northwestern border waiting to cross into Ethiopia if the conflict continues between the Somali National Movement rebels and government forces.

Aid officials said the influx was placing an added strain on Ethiopia's limited resources. The country has about 3 million starving people, and rebels are fighting Ethiopian forces in civil wars in the northern provinces of Tigre and Eritrea.

The refugees are being housed in Ethiopia at camps run jointly by the Marxist government and the U.N. High Commission for Refugees.