Pressure mounts on Kenya to stop closure of refugee camps

Pressure mounts on Kenya to stop closure of refugee camps
File image of Kenyan refugees

Pressure is mounting on Kenya to rescind its decision to close the Daadab and Kakuma refugee camps.

The United States has now joined the United Nations and other human rights groups in urging Kenya to rescind its decision to shut down the refugee camps that host thousands of refugees from Somalia and South Sudan.

The US called on Kenya to continue cooperating with the UN and the Somali Government in carrying out a 2013 agreement on the voluntary return of refugees to their countries.

Meanwhile, Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government Joseph Nkaisserry is expected to brief the media on the repatriation of refugees and the schedule of the closure of Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps.

Last week, the government declared that it would no longer be hosting refugees in the interest of national security.

Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho said 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 a very heavy economic, security and environmental burden on behalf of the region and international community,” said Kibicho.

Kibicho also revealed that the government had disbanded the Department of Refugee Affairs and will also close two refugee 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 on humanitarian needs that will arise out of this action,” said the PS in a statement.

Foreign affairs Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Amina Mohammed defended the government’s move to close all refugee camps in the country, noting that the timeline agreed upon for hosting refugees expires in September 2016.

“We had to disband the Department of Refugee Affairs because it was too expensive for the Kenyan taxpayer,” said the CS. “We received no support from the international community for shouldering this international responsibility, needless to mention we have been hosting refugees since the sixties.”

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Maureen Murimi
Story By Maureen Murimi
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