All refugees in the Dadaab camp will be repatriated to Somalia by May next year, the Government has said.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery said to kick-start the repatriation process and subsequent closure of Dadaab Refugee Complex, the Government has provided Sh1 billion.
The refugees will be repatriated to their countries of origin or to third-party countries for resettlement.
A task force was gazzetted yesterday to put in place the requisite technical infrastructure to oversee the repatriation process.
“Their work will be to oversee, manage and expedite the repatriation and closure of Dadaab by May 31, when they hand in their report,” said Mr Nkaissery.
He added that Kakuma would not be affected for now because it is not a security threat like Dadaab.
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The CS said the decision to fast-track repatriation of refugees is anchored in an evolving understanding by virtually all regional and international bodies that Kenya faces a serious security threat.
He said Kenya’s national security organs have observed that terrorist groups such as ISIS are looking to make inroads into the region.
“The camps have become hosting grounds for Al Shabaab as well as centres of smuggling and contraband trade besides being enablers of illicit weapons proliferation,” said Nkaissery.
He added that an African Union meeting held last year in April had said Somalia was safe and ready and willing to receive her citizens.
The meeting also noted Kenya’s legitimate security concerns that Dadaab camp has been infiltrated and become a hideout for the Al Shabaab terrorist group, which exploited the camps to plan and carry out attacks against Kenya’s institutions, installations and civilians.
Nkaissery said shouldering the burden of refugees is the responsibility of the international community as a whole and not individual countries alone.
“Considering the changing landscape of global terrorism, with new terrorist entities seeking to root themselves in our region, it would be inexcusable for the Government to overlook its primary constitutional responsibility to protect her citizens and their property,” he said.
He argued that large-scale terror attacks such as the Westgate Shopping Mall attack, Garissa University and the Lamu attack were planned and deployed from Dadaab by transnational terrorist groups.
“Over the years, our security agencies have thwarted and continue to thwart numerous terrorist attempts besides recovering caches of arms and arresting several terrorist suspects in Dadaab,” he added.