Kenya to shut down Daadab, Kakuma Refugee camps
The government has now declared that it will no longer be hosting refugees in the interest of national security.
Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho says the move is part of measures the government is putting in place to restore security in the country due to the challenge posed by Al Shabaab.
“As a result of hosting these refugees, the Government of Kenya has continued to shoulder very heavy economic, security and environmental burden on behalf of the region and international community,” said Kibicho.
Kibicho also revealed that the government has disbanded the Department of Refugee Affairs and will also close two refugees camps in due course with no immediate plans to re-open them.
“The Government of Kenya acknowledges that this decision will have adverse effects on the lives of refugees and therefore the international community must collectively take responsibility take responsibility on humanitarian needs that will arise out of this action,” said the PS in a statement.
The move is likely to attract condemnation from the international community which has previously protested any plans to close refugee camps.
Kenya hosts hundreds of refugees from Somali at the Daadab Camp and others from South Sudan at Kakuma Camp.
In December 2015, the High Court nullified the Ministry of Interior and Coordination’s directive to repatriate refugees from Kenya saying that the refugees had not been in anyway linked to any terror act.
The High Court before Justice Isaac Lenaola ordered that the 48 children of refugees who had been taken back to their countries be paid Ksh 50,000 each as compensation for violation of their rights after they were inhumanly separated from their parents and guardians.
In early November, the Kenyan government said it was working with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to ensure a smooth and voluntary repatriation of over 500,000 Somalia refugees living in Dadaab, Garissa County.
As of November, only 45,000 refugees had left the country voluntarily according to Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaiserry.
Records from the Interior Ministry show that at least 45,000 refugees have been repatriated in the last two years from the Dadaab refugee camp and more could soon be going back home under a new program that looks to repatriate at least 500,000 Somali refugees.
Over the years, Somali refugees trickled into the country due to war and famine. Their population has grown to an estimated 350,000 people, more than half the population of the entire refugee community in Kenya.
UNHCR said it had identified 8 areas in Somalia, where most of the refugees came from, and where they would be hosted. Although there were concerted efforts to make the repatriation process possible, new timelines had not been laid out.
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