UNSC: Kenya to maintain position on closure of refugee camps – Omamo

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Kenya has maintained its position on the closure of refugee camps.

While assuming its presidency for the month of October at the UN Security Council (UNSC), Kenya said it will continue to amplify its strong voice for Africa and human suffering.

Speaking to the press, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo said refugee camps should not be permanent or last resort.

Omamo said a time has come for the UN to seek a comprehensive approach to solutions, away from voluntary repatriation, local integration and resettlement.

“Many people across the continent will continue to seek refuge, but at the same time, Kenya is of the view that the same refugees should not be kept in limbo in these camps,” said Omamo.

She said Kenya advocates for the voluntary return of these refugees to their countries of origin without violation of laid down procedures.

The CS said if the matter is brought up during the general debate, it will be dealt with in accordance with the foundations and values of the African Union and the UN.

Daadab Refugee Camp. [Courtesy]

In April this year, Kenya gave the UNHCR a 14-day ultimatum to present a road map on the definite closure of Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps.

Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, while issuing the government directive to the UNHCR representative in Kenya Fathiaa Abdalla, said there was no room for further negotiations.

But UNHCR said the closure of the two camps - with a population of over 500,000 - would adversely affect the protection of refugees and asylum seekers.

UNHCR said it would rather initiate talks with the government, warning that the move would have an adverse impact on the protection of refugees in Kenya, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kenya later revised its directive saying the two camps will be closed by June 2022.

Speaking after a meeting with her Swedish counterpart Olsson Fridh, CS Omamo reiterated that the two sides had pledged to enhance dialogue.

“They agreed to encourage dialogue amongst parties in conflict given Kenya’s important role in the region as a promoter of peace and security, and globally through its seat on the UN Security Council,” read part of a press dispatch from the ministry.