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Kenya Orders Closure of Massive Refugee Camps

Mar 24, 2021

Authorities in Nairobi, Kenya, have ordered the closure of two colossal refugee camps. The camps host over 400 000 refugees from Somalia, and South Sudan.

Kenya has cited security concerns for its plans to close the Dadaab and the Kakuma refugee camps in northern Kenya. Al Jazeera reports that Nairobi first announced it’s intention to shut the Dadaab camp, which is close to the border with Somalia in 2016.

According to Al Jazeera, Fred Matiang’i, Kenya’s interior minister, has given the United Nations refugee agency no less than 14 days to come up a with a plan for the closure of both camps. The ministry reportedly tweeted that there was no room for negotiation regarding the issue. Meanwhile, the UNHCR has urged Kenya to ensure that the refugees remain protected, saying, in a statement that Kenya’s decision to close the camps would impact on the protection of refugees in the country, bearing in mind the COVID-19 pandemic. Kenyan authorities have reportedly informed the UNCHR that it would transport the refugees to the border with Somalia if the camps were not closed.

According to Al Jazeera, Kenya’s attempt to close Dadaab followed intelligence reports that allegedly indicated that some residents of the camp had been involved in two attacks on Kenyan targets in 2013 and 2015. Kenya’s high court, however, had blocked the move, saying it was unconstitutional.

Kenya’s relations with Somalia have disintegrated after Mogadishu accused it of interfering in its internal affairs. Diplomatic ties with Nairobi were subsequently terminated, in December2020.  Kenya’s interior ministry, however, claims the impending camp closures were not related to diplomatic differences with Somalia.

Umm Muhammed Umar

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