By Jude Titus
Kenya will use Sh1 billion to repatriate refugees and asylum seekers from the Dadaab refugee camp as a way of fighting terrorism, a menace that Kenya has grappled with over a period of time now. This was announced today by the Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery in a press conference.
The CS while addressing Journalists indicated that refugee camps have become hideouts for poachers, terrorists, human traffickers and that cannot be allowed to continue.
‘‘For reasons of pressing national security that speak to the safety of Kenyans in a context of terrorist and criminal activities, the Government of the Republic of Kenya has commenced the exercise of closing Dadaab Refugee Complex,’’ stated Nkaissery.
He also added that the refugees will be repatriated to their countries of origin or to third party countries for resettlement. He defended the move saying that it would be inexcusable for the government to overlook its primary constitutional responsibility to protect her citizens and their property.
‘‘The Westgate Shopping Mall, Garissa University and the Lamu terrorist attacks were planned at the camp,’’ reiterated Nkaissery.
According to the Interior CS, the Kakuma refugee camp will not be shut down since it poses no security threat.
The United States has today joined in the cry not to repatriate refugees from the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps.
‘‘We call on Kenya to uphold its international obligations and not forcibly repatriate refugees,’’ State Department Press Relations Director Elizabeth Trudeau said in a statement emailed to the Nation.
In August 2015, more than 100 Somali refugees from Kenya voluntarily flew into Somali Capital, Mogadishu in the voluntary return process. The voluntary returns came after the Tripartite Commission formed by UNHCR and the Governments of Kenya and Somalia, agreed to step up support for voluntary repatriations of Somali refugees.
The Commission met in July last year and decided to give a helping hand to Somali refugees who would voluntarily want to return home. They agreed on a strategy that would see some 425, 000 Somali refugees repatriated over a five-year period.