By Mathew Puoch,
May 112, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —– Kenya in East African region is believed to be the peace hub. The country had been stable for the last 50 years since her independence from British in December1993. Despite 2007 election, the country fight harder to maintain conducive political atmosphere. Kenya as a country is surrounded by numerous unstable countries politically such as Sudan, Somalia, Uganda and Ethiopia. The tremendous displacement of people from neighboring countries has led to influx of refugees into Kenya. The refugees fled to Kenya to seek refuge, protection and access to basic services.
The war in two Sudan North-South Sudan civil war is believed to be the longest continentally. The conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, The Uganda civil war and Somalia let to the establishment of refugee camps in Kenya .This refugee camps earned Kenya recognition and prestige in the whole wide world. Kenya is currently ranked on top as a country that contributed positively to the common good of humanity.
In 1991, Dadaab Camp was set up in Kenya. The Camp houses the families displaced by the conflict from neighboring Somalia. This informal settlement is 100KM from Garissa Town.Dabaab as a camp comprises of mainly refugees from Somalia fleeing conflict between Somali Government and Militants Group of Islam extremist of Al-shabaab.
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In 1992, Kakuma refugee camp was established to accommodate families fleeing conflict from neighboring African largest country Sudan before south independence from united Sudan. The Camp is located in Turkana district in Northern Kenya 120KM from Lodwar District Head-quarter. The semi-arid area is very hot in temperature of approximately 40oc .The Camp on the other hand, accommodates dangerous scorpion, Snakes as well as refugees. The Camp abruptly constitutes 90% of south Sudanese refugees while the other families are from other countries. Some of south Sudanese refugees were there during the first phase of Sudan civil war. The Worst thing is that the recently south Sudan leadership wrangle between the SPLM-IO and SPLM-IG has led to expansion of camp to accommodate families fleeing conflict from south Sudan in December 2013.
The Refugees number had been estimated to be over 600,000 currently living in both Camps of Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps. Dadaab camp currently houses approximately 350,000 purely Somali refugees. Kakuma camp houses the remaining number out of 600,000 of which majority are south Sudanese and the rest from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Congo and Burundi respectively. This placed Kenya as a country to host top refugee camps in the world.
Kakuma and Dadaab camps were administered by the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR).However, there are other UN Agencies that closely help or assist UNHCR in its duties to cater for the needs of refugees. World Food Programmed (WFP), Lutheran World Federation (LWF), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and International Rescue Committee (IRC).These other Agencies contributes to help refugees in the camps. The Kenyan government took control of the camps after the adoption of the Kenya refugee act in 2007.The Government had the authority in Kakuma refugee camps by appointing the camp manager to oversee Affairs and liaison with humanitarian agencies.
However, The Kenyan Government announced to close down all the camps in Kenya. The country hosted refugees for the last 20 years and more. What is behind the decision by the Kenyan Government? Well many issues were raised. The most reason cited by most government institutions and government itself is the terrorism issue. The recently attacked on Kenyan Westgate Mall is believed to have been planned and operationalized in Dadaab Refugee camps by Al-Shabaab Militants. The Government claims that AL-SHABAAB militants smuggle weapons into the Dadaab camp from neighboring Somalia and use freedom of refugees granted by UNHCR to organize attack on Kenyan. This is a threat to national security, said the “Kenyan Government”.
Observing the economical impact on Kenyan citizens, the Government never seems to care on that aspect. Employment for many Kenyan working in refugee camps is to be affected too. This is also a national interest. The Turkana being the host community had now seen light after many years of marginalization and neglect by Kenyan Government. Yes, half a loaf is better than none but Kenyan lives are more valuable than job opportunities to them. This explains why the Government becomes so furious to act quickly on terrorism. By closing down all the refugee camps the security situation would be normal said, “The Government”.
The Government put much emphasizes on the Somali refugees in Dadaab camp. South Sudanese refugees in Kakuma were not accused in any attempts to terrorism by the government. The move by the Government to crackdown on terrorism by deporting refugees will affect south Sudanese in Kakuma. Although no clear evidence from the Kenyan Government why Kakuma too is affected, all in all no camp is to be tolerated to exist.
The UNHCR Agency warns the Kenyan Government of “extreme humanitarian and practical consequences” should the government insist on the looming decision. The countries where refugees come from never had an everlasting peace. In 1951, UN convention on refugees stipulates that the hosting countries should not forcibly returns refugees to their respective countries.
South Sudanese communities in Kakuma Kenya acquired knowledge and skills during their stay in Kenya. Sincerely speaking, most south Sudanese who grew up in Kenya went back home on repatriation process organize by UNHCR in 2007.These people contributed positively to south Sudan economy. Some of them worked and hold key Government Offices in Capitals like Juba for instances. This improves the pace and development of south Sudan. I think Kakuma contributed to literacy rate of 27% according to world population 2015.Some refugees are going to miss out their exams as most of them are now candidates in both primary and secondary level. They are now in a state of consternation.
As the saying goes,” a rotten Onion will affect others in a sack”, South Sudanese will eventually be affected when they are neither terrorist nor thieves. The Kenyan Government should consider the African national cohesion. The decisions are bias in strongest term possible to refugees. If this move materialized, I have a dream that the African unity is over once and for all.
The author is a concerned citizen of south Sudan living in Nairobi, student at St.paul University and can be reached by Mathewpuoch@gmail.com
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