Kenya gives ultimatum to UNHCR to close refugee camps

The Kenyan government has given the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) a two-week deadline to provide a roadmap for the closure of the Dabaab and Kakuma refugee camps. 

The government said there is no ground for further talks in a statement released Wednesday by Fred Matiang’i, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for the Interior, to UNHCR local representative Fathia Abdalla. 

According to local media, the Dabaab refugee camp is one of the world’s largest and most complex camps, situated in the semi-arid town of Garissa county.

The Dabaab camp was founded in 1992 and is jointly run by the Kenyan Department of Refugee Affairs and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 

According to the United Nations, the camp housed 210,556 refugees as of March 2019. Somalia accounts for 202, 381 of these people, with 56 percent of them being children. In the camp, there are 55,000 South Sudanese. 

Overcrowding in the camp has resulted in a spillover of refugees onto land well beyond the camp’s official borders over the years. 

The Kenyan government threatened to close the camp in 2019, despite the fact that refugees continue to refuse to return home as part of a voluntary repatriation program that began in 2014. 

According to the United Nations, the majority of the refugees were forced to flee their home country due to civil war.

Educator, writer and legal researcher at Alafarika for Studies and Consultancy.

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