Kenya to host refugees longer as report accuses gov’t of coercion

Two days after human rights group – Amnesty International, accused the Kenyan government of coercing refugees to go back to the war-torn Somalia, the government has now extended the closure of the Dadaab Refugee Complex by six months.

In the report, refugees told Amnesty International that they face numerous threats from the Kenyan government and were hence considering leaving the country.

The report further accuses the Kenyan government and the international community of failing to offer any alternative options to refugees, majority of whom are not willing to go back to Somalia.

According to the report, several of those who spoke to Amnesty International cited insecurity, lack of basic services and fear of discrimination as reasons for not wanting to return.

In September, the UK government accepted to support the Government of Kenya in resettling the over 300,000 Somali refugees at the Dadaab Camp in Garissa County.

While addressing the UN General Assembly in New York, UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced the disbursement of Ksh 2.7 billion to the Kenyan Government to assist in their safe relocation back to Somalia, allowing them to safely start off their lives in their country.

In May, the government announced the decision to close Dadaab refugee camp national security concerns due to the challenge posed by Al Shabaab.

Kenya hosts more than 500,000 refugees in the Dadaab complex.

Announcing the deadline extension by six months on Wednesday, November 16, at Harambee House, Nairobi, Interior Cabinet Secretary, Major Gen. (Rtd.) Joseph Nkaissery said the government’s decision followed human rights groups’ request for an extension due to what they termed as the delicate situation in Somalia.

Nkaissery, who was speaking after a meeting with officials from the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, and Somali Ambassador to Kenya, Jamal Mohamed Hassan, said that the extension will also give the international community time to ensure peace and security is restored in Somalia.

Nkaissery further revealed an elaborate six month repatriation programme set to begin in December, insisting it will be carried out in a humane and safe manner.

“Kenya is committed in upholding the law during this process,” said Nkaissery.

The first month is slated for clearing double registration, while all non-Somali refugees will be repatriated to other UNHCR camps.

Complete relocation of Somali refugees to third countries will be done in the third month while the fourth and fifth month will see the complete relocation of Somali refugees from Dadaab to Somalia.

The sixth month will see the closure of the refugee complex and the commencement of the environmental rehabilitation programme in the area.

The Interior CS indicated that so far, over 15,000 out of the over 250,000 Somalia refugees have been repatriated from the Daadab Refugee Complex.

Initially, the closure was slated for November 30, 2016.

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Story By Wangui Ngechu
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