By CYRUS OMBATI
Kenya: Some 281 refugees have so far been taken back to their camps from Nairobi since Thursday, the Government has said.
The first group of 111 refugees was transported out of the Safaricom Stadium in Kasarani on Thursday evening in four buses to the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps.
The second group comprising 170 refugees left Nairobi on Friday evening in six buses, the Ministry of Interior and National Coordination spokesman Mwenda Njoka said in a statement.
He said this was in line with Government policy to have refugees settled only in gazetted refugee camps.
The refugees were netted in the on going security operation in Nairobi and screened at the stadium. The operation started on April 1.
“The first group of 111 refugees was transported from Kasarani Sports Ground on Thursday evening in a ceremony witnessed by Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government Joseph ole Lenku,” a statement said.
More refugees were to leave Saturday. Lenku said the directive requiring refugees to be settled strictly in gazetted refugee camps issued on March 25 conforms to local and international laws governing refugee affairs still stands.
This is as per Section 16(2) of the Refugee Act 2006 and Article 2 of the 1951 Geneva Convention.
“Every refugee has duties to the country in which he finds himself and which require in particular that he conform to its laws and regulations as well as to measures taken for the maintenance of public order.” Mr Njoka said contrary to the perception created in some quarters, the directive was not targeting particular groups of refugees but all refugees and asylum seekers in Kenya. Kenya hosts more than 600,000 refugees and asylum seekers from over 11 countries.
The move came hours after 91 more illegal aliens were deported to Somalia after they were found to be in Kenya illegally in the ongoing security operation.
They are part of the 225 illegal aliens slated for deportation. Officials said the 91 were deported from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Thursday afternoon.
“We plan to deport more as soon as there is space in these planes,” said police boss David Kimaiyo. The Government said 412 people would be repatriated to their designated refugee camps after they were found to have left there. The refugees include 406 Somalis, two Ethiopians, one Congolese, two Ugandans and a Sudanese.
The victims were arrested in the operation in Nairobi alone. Police arrested more than 5,000 but released some before taking others to Kasarani, which is a screening centre but has been gazetted as a police station. Kimaiyo said they are paying attention to documents that the suspects produce to justify their nationality which include IDs, passports, visa and work permits and refugee cards which can be manipulated by unscrupulous people.
He said the operation will continue and has so far spread to other parts of the country including Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru and Nyeri.
The police boss said lack of political support from some people has affected the operation but vowed to continue with it because it is aimed at making the country safer.
He said he had met a group of leaders from the Somali community in Kenya at State House on Wednesday and convinced them on the need to support the operation. The leaders met President Uhuru Kenyatta to complain about the operation that they termed as discriminatory.
The Department of Refugee Affairs in Nairobi ordered all 600,000 refugees and asylum seekers to go back to their designated camps in Kakuma and Daadab.
The directive follows numerous cases of insecurity around the country and a major crackdown on suspected terrorists.