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Decision to shut refugee camp final, DP William Ruto tells leaders at global summit

By DPPS | May 24th 2016
Deputy President William Ruto shakes hands with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud when they met on the sidelines of the ongoing World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in Turkey. (PHOTO: DPPS)

Kenya has told an international summit that its decision to close Dadaab refugee camp was final.

The Kenyan delegation led by Deputy President William Ruto yesterday told the international community to support the country’s move, and channel finances towards repatriating the refugees to Somalia.

Ruto told the World Humanitarian Summit attended by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other world leaders that the camp had become a burden to Kenya.

He said the camp was a security threat, a haven for terrorism and conduit of contraband goods as well as a danger to the environment.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also addressed the conference.

“Kenya has been faithful to her international obligations of humanitarian assistance but no country can shoulder humanitarian responsibilities at the expense of the security of her people and the refugees themselves,” said Ruto.

Huge cost

He also conveyed the same message to Mr Ban and Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud whom he met on the sidelines of the summit.

Ruto was accompanied by Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery and Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Monica Juma.

Also present were chairmen of National Assembly Security Committee Asman Kamama and Defence and Foreign Relations’ Ndungu Gethenji. Kenya’s ambassador to Turkey Kiema Kilonzo, MPs Yusuf Haji, Barre Shill and Kimani Ichungwah also attended the conference.

Ruto said Kenya attended the summit to discuss the repatriation of the refugees.

“We have been steadfast and unparalleled despite the huge cost to the country in monetary, security, environmental and ecological spheres,” he said.

The deputy president said it was an insult for anyone to insinuate that Kenya was using the refugee crisis to solicit for funds.

“Kenya has used its own resources for many years to support refugees and help stabilise Somalia. The country spends US$100 million annually to support military intervention in Somalia,” he said.

Kenya, he added, had paid the prize of terrorism and smuggling of weapons and contraband goods into the county through the camp.

The closure of the camp, he said, was being carried out in the best interest of refugees within the framework of the Tripartite Agreement between the Government of Kenya, Federal Government of Somalia and UNHCR.

Ruto said it was unfortunate that the Dadaab refugee camp had lost its humanitarian character, and instead mutated into a centre for radicalisation, planning and training of Al Shabaab terrorists as well as a conduit for contraband goods, weapons, electronics and sugar, which is killing local industries.

He added: “For the last two years, the refugee camp has posed an existential threat to Kenya.”

Traced to camp

“The planning, co-ordination and the execution of the terrorist attack in Westgate Shopping Mall that killed 67 people in Nairobi, the Garissa University terror attack where we lost 147 students and Lamu attack where 67 Kenyans lost their lives were all traced to the camp.”

Ruto who conveyed Kenya’s decision to close the camp to President Mohamud said the world should focus on stabilising Somalia to resolve the conflict once and for all.

“We must tell the world to focus on Somalia. We must share the responsibility of the refugee crisis,” he said.

Ruto said the three years of tripartite agreement was almost coming to and end and Kenya had deployed its resources to extradite the refugees.

Mr Mohamud said his government would work with Kenya, other countries and UN to make the process successful.

“We have been preparing the ground to receive the refugees. We have done infrastructure in 52 districts where returnees can stay. This is our priority area. We are ready to receive them,” he said.

He regretted the refugees had caused Kenya problems.

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