Kenya, Somalia talks on Dadaab Refugee Camp closure ‘fail’

Kenya, Somalia talks on Dadaab Refugee Camp closure 'fail'

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somalia counterpart Hassan Sheikh Mohamud have failed to agree on the impending closure of the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya’s North Eastern region.

The two Heads of State held a marathon meeting of more than three hours at State House, Nairobi in a bid to strike a bid on the way forward as Kenya edges closer to closing the Dadaab refugee complex but failed to reach a binding agreement.

In a statement, PSCU said that Presidents Kenyatta and Mohamud discussed an ally of issues including the ‘decision to close the Dadaab Refugee Camp, trade issues including rules affecting aviation between Kenya and Somalia, and cooperation on security’.

However, State House remained silent on whether the two states reached any agreement on the thorny issue with Kenya insisting that it will close the refugee camp as it is a threat to the national security.

In the recent past, the government – represented by Deputy President William Ruto – told the World Humanitarian Summit held in Istanbul, Turkey that it will proceed with its plan to shut down the camp that has continued to habour Al Shabaab militants as well as give them a training ground, something that compromises the war against extremism and terrorism.

Ruto told the Western nations willing to support the refugees to send their donations to Somalia as the government will not backtrack on its decision.

President Mohamud becomes the first sitting-Somalia Head of state to visit the Dadaab refugee Camp in over two decades of its existence.

During his visit to the camp on Monday, the Somalia President said he was ready to receive ‘his people’ (read refugees). He, however, said that the repatriation process should be done on a voluntary basis.

The international community and humanitarian bodies have opposed the closure of the camp saying that refugees should not be forced back home.

UNHCR argues that refugees must be repatriated voluntarily and on condition that the basic amenities such as schools, clean water, proper sanitation, and security among others are well within rich.

Despite these calls, the government went ahead to shut down the Department of Refugees which was under the Ministry of Interior saying that it was becoming expensive to run with an annual cost of over Ksh 1 billion.

The two leaders are expected to go for a round of negotiations Wednesday to try and resolve the refugee crisis.

The Dadaab Refugee Camp is home to over 350,000 refugees of Somali-origin.

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Story By Koome Kimonye
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