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Treat refugees fairly

By The Standard | June 17th 2016

Kenya’s decision to repatriate refugees from the Dadaab and Kakuma camps appears final. Arising from an ever-present terrorist threat, the government resolved to close the two camps, which between them have been home to more than 600,000 refugees who escaped the mayhem that followed the ouster of President Siad Barre of Somalia in 1991.

The camps have been blamed for, among other things, the smuggling of goods, weapons and for being a breeding ground for terrorists. It has largely been believed the 2013 Westgate attack in Nairobi was planned within the vast camps.

Even though Kenya’s action negates the November 10, 2013 Tripartite Agreement between Kenya, Somalia and the UNHRC, specifically because it states repatriation must be voluntary, the United Nations (UN) now backs the exercise.

With the UN having signalled it was willing to chip in financial and logistical support, the least Kenya can do is accord the refugees some dignity. Starting a life in a place where many of the refugees have never been since many were born in Kenya, poses a number of challenges.

Somalia is still a long way from being stable, all the more reason why those repatriated must be taken to safe areas to begin reconstructing their lives.

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