Decision to close Daadab final, Uhuru tells UNHCR head
President Uhuru Kenyatta has told the head of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) Filipo Grandi that his government’s decision to close the Dadaab refugee complex is final.
Speaking during a press briefing at Statehouse on Sunday, State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu said President Kenyatta has instead appealed to the UNHCR High Commissioner and other stakeholders to work with Kenya to fast track the repatriation process.
“The decision on Daadab is taken and that decision is final. Partner organisations such as UNHCR should step up and work with the government on how this process can be accomplished fast, in a humane way and without a threat to anyone’s life,” said Esipisu, adding that it was the same message the President had for EU Ambassadors and High Commissioner whom he met on Friday.
“All we want is to ensure that the Somali people can return to make a meaningful contribution to the building of their country,” he added.
Esipisu added that President Kenyatta clarified that Kenya’s position on the issue was not borne primarily out of financial strain but was rather based no the environmental and security risks that increasingly permanent refugee settlements pose.
“The camps threaten to destabilise communities and escalate inter-ethnic tension between groups, among other notable security threats. The President sought the European Union’s support in addressing the issue of repatriation as quickly and equitably as possible,” he said.
In May, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambssador Amina Mohamed assured that the closure of the Dadaab refugee complex and repatriation of Somali refugees will be carried out in a humane manner.
CS Mohamed made the statement during a meeting of the Tripartite Agreement Partners – with Honourable Abdisalam Omer, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Government of Somalia and Representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Kenya and Somalia, at her office in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The meeting reviewed the challenges that have led to limited success in assisted repatriation of refugees since the signing of the Agreement in November 2013.
CS Amina said that the Government of Kenya had formed a task-force that will outline the modalities of the exercise to ensure an orderly and humane process.
Noting the failure of the international community to translate their pledges into concrete support, the meeting expressed concern at the international community’s neglect of the Somali displacement and refugee crisis.
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