The Government has received Sh10.8 billion from donors for the support of refugee camps, including Dadaab, which President Uhuru Kenyatta had vowed to shut down two years ago.
Other than benefiting a million residents living around the refugee camps, the donation will also benefit more than half a million refugees, bringing into question the Government’s hyped decision to close down one of the camps.
The World Bank has given Kenya a concessional loan of $100 million (Sh10 billion) with an additional $8.18 million (Sh818 million) from the Kingdom of Denmark, which will be used to address the impact of communities around Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps.
"The National Government has requested for a credit from the World Bank to finance the implementation of the Kenya Development Response to Displacement Impact Project (KDRDIP).
"The project implementation will be under the overall responsibility of the executive Office of the President for the Northern Kenya Development Initiative,” reads the document from the Office of the President.
The money will be used to finance KDRDIP, a project aimed at improving the livelihoods of communities in Northern Kenya who live around refugee camps.
The Government says KDRDIP will be integral in addressing the impacts of protracted presence of refugees on the host communities around Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps in Garissa, Wajir and Turkana counties.
The proposed areas of intervention are Lagdera, Fafi, Dadaab, Wajir South and Turkana West.
The Government says the protracted presence of refugees has had both positive and negative impacts on the host communities.
“While there has been some positive impacts on host communities like improved access to services and economic interactions, including employment opportunities, there are also significant negative impacts on environment and natural resources, including water availability, conflicts over grazing land and water,” reads the document.
Critics have accused the Government of using the camp as a scapegoat to solicit for funds, after senior Government officials linked it to increased terrorist activities in the country.
Deputy President William Ruto, while denying that the Government was bringing up the issue of refugee camps to solicit for funds, complained of how Kenya had been left to shoulder the burden of hosting the refugees, most of whom were fleeing civil strife in Somalia.
“The camp was a security threat, a haven for terrorism and conduit for contraband goods as well as a danger to the environment," Ruto said at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit attended by then UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon and other world leaders.
Ruto said Kenya had been faithful to her international obligations of humanitarian assistance, noting that “no country can shoulder humanitarian responsibilities at the expense of the security of her people and the refugees themselves”.
The United Nations however said Government’s assertions of terrorist activities at Dadaab were unverified.
The UN Security Council talked of “the non-availability of clear information on the presence of terrorist elements inside the camps.”
Consisting of four camps, the Dadaab refugee complex has a population of 235,269 registered refugees and asylum seekers as at the end of January 2018, according to the United Nations.
The first camp was established in 1991, when refugees fleeing the civil war in Somalia started to cross the border into Kenya.