Kenya court halts step by government to close refugee camps
The government’s plan to shutter the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps, which house nearly 500,000 people, has been temporarily blocked by Kenya’s High Court.
According to Africanews, the court issued a stay order on Thursday following a petition filed to the high court that challenged a decision by the Interior Ministry calling on the UN refugee agency to formulate a plan to close the camps as soon as possible. Somalis make up the majority of the refugees.
The lawsuit will be initially heard on April 13.
Kenya gave the UN Refugee Agency a 14-day deadline on March 24 to devise a plan to close the camps, Kenya’s Interior Ministry tweeted, saying there is no space for further negotiations.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reacted quickly, warning that ejecting refugees from the Dadaab and Kakuma camps, which have populations of 218,873 and 196,666, respectively, would be disastrous.
In November 2016, Kenya announced plans to close the Dadaab camp, citing a security threat to Kenyans.
According to Africanews, Kenya alleged that al-Qaeda affiliated al-Shabaab terrorists who attacked Garissa University, killing more than 140 students in 2015, had been facilitated by sympathizers from the camp, citing it as the main reason for the closure.