UN Chief Urges Kenya Not to Close Refugee Camps

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the Kenyan government not to close the Dadaab refugee camp.

The UN chief spoke to President Uhuru Kenyatta by phone on Wednesday, confirming Kenya will have support from the UN in finding alternative options to closing the world’s largest refugee camp.

 

Kenyatta to meet UN officials

The Kenyan president is set to meet 15 top UN officials in Nairobi on Friday to discuss the matter. Kenyatta announced plans earlier this month to shut down the camp after deeming it a security threat.

The camp’s closure would see roughly 350,000 refugees kicked out of Kenya and forced to return to their home country or settle elsewhere. The international community is worried the closure of Dadaab would spark another migrant crisis before it even comes to grips with the previous one.

The meeting between Kenyatta and the UN officials will discuss alternative options and the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). Kenya is one the biggest contributors to AMISOM which aims to settle Somalia’s troubles with extremist group Al-Shabaab.

 

The world’s largest refugee camp

The Dadaab camp houses almost 350,000 Somali refugees 100m from the border between the neighbouring countries. Somalia is where Al-Shabaab originates from and the camp has been singled out as a point of entry for militant fighters and weapons.

Al-Shabaab has staged various attacks on Kenya soil in recent years, killing hundreds of civilians. Kenya asked the UN to relocate the refugees in 2015 to a designated section of Somalia following the attack on Garissa Univerity which killed 148. The UN refused, reminding Kenya of an agreement that says legal refugees can only be sent back to their country of origin voluntarily.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reportedly urged President Kenyatta to honour that agreement during Wednesday’s phone call.

 

Featured image:

By DFID – UK Department for International DevelopmentRefugee shelters in the Dadaab camp, northern Kenya, July 2011, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26240609