Kenya Says Dadaab and Kakuma Refugee Camps to Close Next Year | Refugee News


The Kenyan government said it had announced to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) that it would close two refugee camps hosting more than 400,000 people by June 30 of next year.

The Home Ministry’s announcement on Thursday followed a meeting between Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on the status of the Dadaab and Kakuma camps. Most of the 433,765 refugees and asylum seekers living in the settlements are from Somalia and South Sudan.

“A joint team comprising officials from the Kenyan government and the agency (UN Refugee) will therefore be formed to finalize and implement a roadmap on the next steps towards a humane management of refugees in both camps,” said one. joint press release.

Earlier this month, UNHCR presented in Kenya what it called “durable rights-based measures” to find solutions to the long-standing displacement of refugees.

This followed a two week ultimatum Kenya’s interior minister gave the agency to come up with a roadmap to close decades-old camps.

A push by the Kenyan government to close the camps earlier was blocked after the country’s High Court issued a 30 day temporary order following a legal challenge filed by former presidential aspirant Peter Gichira who sought to block the closure.

The “durable and rights-based measures” taken by UNHCR to find a solution to the displacement of refugees include the voluntary return of refugees in safety and dignity, departures to third countries under various arrangements, and other options. stay in Kenya for some refugees from the East African Community, or EAC, country.

“We are determined to complete the repatriation program that we started in 2016, in view of our international obligations and our national responsibility. We therefore reiterate our previous position to close the Dadaab and Kakuma camps before June 30, 2022, ”Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i said, according to the statement.

“I believe the Kenyan government and people will continue to show their generous hospitality to refugees as they have done for nearly three decades as we continue discussions on a strategy to find the most durable, appropriate and well-founded solutions. on rights for refugees. and asylum seekers residing in the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps, ”said Grandi.

Refugees from East African countries will have the opportunity to be issued a work permit for free so that they can integrate into Kenyan communities or return to their country of origin, said Matiang’i.

Kenya has said the Dadaab refugee camp near the Somali border is a source of insecurity. Some officials have argued that it was used as a recruiting ground for the armed group al-Shabab and as a base for launching violent attacks inside Kenya, but officials have not provided conclusive evidence.

Kenya has been saying for years that it would like to close Daadab, near Kenya’s eastern border with Somalia, which hosts nearly 200,000 mostly Somali refugees.

A Kenyan court in 2017 blocked the closure of Dadaab camp, saying it was not safe for refugees to return to Somalia.

The Kenyan government’s latest request is seen as retaliation against Somalia for insisting on pursuing a case in the International Court of Justice over a disputed maritime border between the two countries. Kenya wants the matter to be settled amicably.

Kakuma, home to over 190,000 refugees, is located in northwest Kenya. Dadaab is in eastern Kenya, near the Somali border, but many Somalis have moved between the two camps.

Dadaab was established 30 years ago and was once the largest refugee camp in the world, which at its peak hosted more than half a million people fleeing violence and drought in Somalia.

Talk to Al Jazeera earlier this month, residents of both camps urged the Kenyan government to abandon its plans.

“It’s very terrifying because we don’t know the next step, like where are we going to go from here,” David Omot, an Ethiopian who has lived in Kakuma and Dadaab since 2005, said of the order. closing. “Where will we go? At home, we still have some insecurity, there are still problems that people are facing, especially young people.

Austin Baboya, a 26-year-old South Sudanese based in Kakuma, said he knew of no other home than a refugee camp.

“I don’t know if the [Kenyan] The government has sat down and looked at the lives of the people living in the camp where they just wake up and make those decisions, ”Baboya said, calling on UNHCR and international donors to help find a solution.

“Before the camp opened, scores of people lost their lives. Very many people have fled their country of origin… They have found a home and I don’t think many of them are ready to return.





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