Kenya: Activists Sue Government Over Plan to Close Refugee Camp
Two activist groups in Kenya have sued the government over its plans to close the world’s largest refugee camp.
The two organisations argue there was no public participation in recent directives issued on May 6 and May 10 calling for the Refugee Department to be disbanded and two of the county’s camps closed by November.
Groups sue government officials
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and Kituo cha Sheria have filed a lawsuit against Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, his Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho and the Attorney-General Githu Muigai.
The two groups accuse the government officials of issuing blanket directives that discriminate against human rights and violate international law. They also claim some refugees would likely face prosecution, while condemning others to return to the nation they initially fled.
The groups are seeking that the “illegal” directives be suspended immediately.
“The purported disbandment of an entire government’s refugee department by way of a statement is arbitrary and has exposed refugees as well as asylum seekers to various protection concerns, leading to uncertainties and hardships,” said the human rights commission’s Chief Executive Patricia Nyaundi
Closing the world’s largest refugee camp
Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta announced plans in May to close two of Kenya’s largest refugee camps – including Dadaab, which is considered to be the world’s largest.
The international community and rights groups have condemned the plan, pointing out that it violates both Kenyan and international law. Diplomats from Somali, where the vast majority of refugees at the camps originate from, have said the plans are simply impractical.
Closure of Dadaab would see almost 350,000 Somali refugees returned back to Somalia or moved on to other countries. Given the current migrant crisis in Europe, the proposals haven’t been particularly well received. The Kenyan government insists Dadaab is a security threat, acting as a gateway for militant groups to smuggle weapons into the country.