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Kenya should rethink camps' closure

By The Standard | May 10th 2016

Last year's terrorist attack on Garissa University spurred leaders from the region into calling for the closure of Dadaab Refugee camps, home to more than 430,000 refugees from war-torn Somalia. This is because investigations revealed that the attack was planned at the sprawling camp, the biggest in the world.

The closure of the Dadaab and Kakuma Refugee camp raises fundamental questions on the fate of those who for decades have called the camps home. Other than fueling insecurity, the camps has strained our resources, especially after the international community withdrew funding support. The negative effect on the ecological system where the camp is situated is also not in doubt. Yet these does not give grounds on which to forcefully repatriate people back to the danger zone they were fleeing from in the first place.

The UN estimates that there are 12,000 third-generation refugees born to refugee parents in Dadaab. Where do they go from here? Moreover, Kenya’s stand negates the provisions of the 2013 Tripartite Agreement between UNHRC, Kenya and Somalia, which sought to repatriate Somali refugees to safe areas only on voluntary basis following the formation of a federal government in Mogadishu. If for nothing else, the closure of the camps should be reconsidered on humanitarian grounds.

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