Give Daadab refugees Kenyan citizenship, Raila tells gov’t


Raila
Raila Odinga at a rally in Garissa on June 4, 2016. [Photo/Courtesy]

CORD leader Raila Odinga has called on the government to give refugees at the Daadab camp Kenyan citizenship instead of repatriating them to Somalia.

Raila said the planned repatriation exercise and closure of Daadab refugee camp is tantamount to discrimination, saying the government should instead ensure the refugees are given citizenship and national ID cards.

He said the closure of Daadab refugee camp would not improve security in the country, saying the move will instead endanger the lives of the refugees.

“When they say that it is not possible to issue IDs in North Eastern because it is a border region and they cannot differentiate between Kenyan Somalis and those from Somalia, how then do they deal with Maasais from Kenya and those from Tanzania?” he questioned.

He called on the government to adopt the Tanzanian system and register the refugees as citizens.

Raila’s call resonates with that of several world leaders including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who have urged the government to rethink its plan to repatriate refugees.

In talks with Deputy President William Ruto on the sidelines World Humanitarian Summit last month, the UN chief said he recognizes the role played by Kenya in hosting the refugees over the years, saying closing the camp will have devastating effects on the refugees.

A high level delegation of the UN Security Council, led by its President, Amb. Abdelattiff Aboulatta, also flew to Nairobi last month and met President Uhuru Kenyatta to persuade him to halt the repatriation plans.

The government has however insisted that the repatriation will go on as planned saying the presence of the camp poses a great risk to national security.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery claimed that the camp has been used by Al Shabaab militia as a hideout and a place to plan terror activities in the country.

The government has also stated that it spends over Sh1 billion in ensuring security in the camp yet they only receive Sh300 million from donors.

The decision was however backed by Garissa Governor Nathif Jama who called on government to iron out any pending issues that may hinder the repatriation process.

The camp, which holds over 600,000 refugees, stands as the world’s largest refugee camp.

Daadab camp was opened in 1991 as a temporary shelter for Somalis fleeing civil war in Somalia, and has remained open since then.

@benjaminwafula

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Story By Benjamin Wafula
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