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Kenya points ultimatum to UN to shut camps housing virtually 400,000 refugees | Migration and growth

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Kenya has as soon as once more threatened to shut two big refugee camps within the nation, in a transfer that has alarmed the UN refugee company (UNHCR) and donor organisations.

A tweet from the ministry of interior gave the UNHCR a “14-day ultimatum to have a roadmap on particular closure of Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps”.

The ministry added there was “no room for additional negotiations”, even because the UNHCR mentioned it meant to open dialogue with native authorities on the matter earlier than the 6 April deadline.

As of 28 February, Kenya hosted 512,494 refugees and asylum seekers, with Dadaab and Kakuma accounting for 224,462 and 163,299 refugees respectively. Of the whole, 274,299 are from Somalia.

The federal government gave no purpose for the orders however observers have been fast to level to Kenya’s deepening row with its neighbour that has resulted in Somalia severing diplomatic relations.

The 2 nations are embroiled in a maritime delimitation within the Indian Ocean that led Somalia to refer Kenya to the worldwide court docket of justice.

Dadaab camp is located in Garissa county, which borders Somalia.

The federal government’s assertion appeared to have caught the UN company off-guard. “UNHCR has been knowledgeable by the Kenyan authorities of their intention to shut Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps inside a brief timeframe,” the UNHCR mentioned in an announcement.

Whereas the UN physique thanked Kenya for “generously internet hosting refugees and asylum seekers for a number of many years”, it mentioned the order could be difficult to implement in mild of the just lately imposed partial Covid-19 lockdown.

“UNHCR is anxious in regards to the affect this determination would have on the safety of refugees in Kenya, together with within the context of the continued Covid-19 pandemic. We urge the federal government of Kenya to make sure that any selections enable for appropriate and sustainable options to be discovered, and that those that proceed to wish safety are capable of obtain it,” the UNHCR assertion mentioned.

A day after the announcement, native authorities officers held an emergency assembly in regards to the deliberate closure of the refugee camps with companions together with the World Financial institution, Worldwide Financial Fund and 25 heads of overseas missions in Nairobi. Particulars of the assembly weren’t made public.

Glenn Jusnes, who heads the exterior relations division at UNHCR Kenya, confirmed that talks have been persevering with at “larger ranges” to attempt to break the impasse.

“We too are attempting to unpack the data from the federal government,” Jusnes mentioned. “Regardless of all method of speculations relating to the announcement, our temporary is to give you a roadmap inside two weeks, and that’s what we are attempting to do.

“It doesn’t take plenty of creativeness as to what (closure) will imply in mild of the present scenario with the pandemic,” mentioned Jusnes.

The menace is the newest of a number of makes an attempt by Kenya to relocate the camps from inside its borders.

A market in the Dadaab refugee camp, which Kenya has demanded the UNHCR shut down.
A market within the Dadaab refugee camp, which Kenya has demanded the UNHCR shut down. {Photograph}: Sally Hayden

In 2016, the federal government issued an identical warning, vowing to shut Dadaab, then the world’s greatest refugee camp, and ship hundreds of individuals again to Somalia. It claimed a string of terrorist actions in Kenya had been deliberate from inside the refugee camp.

However UN our bodies, support companies and human rights teams have all the time pleaded with the federal government to retract such orders, because the situations that displaced hundreds of individuals nonetheless exist of their nations of origin.

Human Rights Watch has mentioned: “Regardless of the Kenyan authorities’s frequent statements that Somali refugees in Kenya are answerable for Kenya’s insecurity, officers haven’t offered credible proof linking Somali refugees to any terrorist assaults in Kenya.”

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