Kenya gives UN agency 14 days to close two refugee camps

The Kenya government has on Wednesday March 24th, 2021 issued a two-week ultimatum to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to draw a roadmap for the closure of two refugee camps.

This directive purported to close the two camps, Dabaab and Kakuma holding over 410,000 refugees was issued by Fred Matiang’i, the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Interior who added that, the decision is non-negotiable. 

The Kenyan Star Newspaper quoted Mr. Fred Matiang’I to have said that, the decision was taken due to “terror threats planned from Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps”

As a response to the just released non-negotiable directive, the U.N. agency confirmed that, it “has been informed by the Kenyan authorities of their intention to close Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps within a short timeframe;” adding that, We will continue our dialogue with the Kenyan authorities on this issue.”

It could be recalled that, this is not the first time Kenya is taking this decision; the country earlier compromised after announcing the planned closure of Dadaab camp back in 2016, citing “national security concerns.”

Authorities in Nairobi linked the move to concerns about al-Shabaab terrorist group which attacked Garissa University killing more than 140 students in 2015. According to them, the attack was allegedly facilitated by sympathizers from the Dadaab refugee camp. This was later declined by a Kenyan court in 2017 on grounds of refugee safety.

The UNHCR has equally called on the Kenyan government following this new directive; the UN agency stated that, the context of the pandemic is not appropriate for the refugees to be released from these camps. 

United Nations report have it that, as of March 2019, the camp hosted about 210,556 refugees. Of this figure, 202, 381 were from Somalia, 55,000 South Sudanese. The report also added that, 56 percent of the number are children

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