March 24, 20214(Nyamilepedia) — The Kenyan government on Monday ordered for the closure of two refugee camps in two weeks’ time.
The two refugee camps, Dadaab and Kakuma, in northern Kenya together host more than 410,000 people, a small proportion of whom are from South Sudan.
The two camps have been home to the refugees for more almost 30 years.
Fred Matiang’i, the interior minister said that the closure of the camps has become necessary due to national security threats posed by some of the refugees whom they say are linked to the Somalia militant group al-Shabab.
“We must strike a balance between Kenya’s international obligations and her domestic duty. We do have a domestic responsibility to protect Kenyans,” Matiang’i said.
The interior minister, Fred Matiang’i, gave the UNHCR 14 days to draw up a plan for the closure of both Dadaab and Kakuma.
In response, the refugee agency said that it is aware of the calls by the Kenyan government to close the two camps.
“UNHCR has been informed by the Kenyan authorities of their intention to close Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps within a short timeframe,” the agency said in a statement.
The agency raised concerns of the protection of the refugees in the camp.
“UNHCR is concerned about the impact this decision would have on the protection of refugees in Kenya, including in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue our dialogue with the Kenyan authorities on this issue,”
The agency urged the Government of Kenya to ensure that any decisions allow for suitable and sustainable solutions to be found and that those who continue to need protection are able to receive it.
The statement further said that UNHCR stands ready to support the Government of Kenya in continuing and further strengthening the work that is ongoing to find solutions that are orderly, sustainable and respect refugee rights.