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UN warns Kenya against forced movement of refugees to Somalia

15 April 2015, 09:35 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson to Kenya, Emmanuel Nyambera has faulted the government’s decision of forcefully moving the Dadaab camp refugees to Somalia after three months.

Nyambera said the government’s issued timeline is too short and the directive cannot be implemented because it contravenes the international laws that provides for voluntary repatriation of refugees.

“The closure of Dadaab or Kakuma refugee camps is not easy especially where more than 350 000, almost equal Kisumu town population have to be moved out. We can’t force the refugees back to Somalia yet there is still insecurity in their regions,” said Nyambera.

He added that the camp cannot also be evacuated to Somalia on grounds that refugees are safer in Kenya than when they are protected in camps within their country because their enemies find it easy to attack them.

“Discussions with the government are ongoing to look for a lasting solution to insecurity in the country and proper measures in spearheading voluntary repatriation. More than 50 000 refugees voluntarily returned to back home and from December last year to date we have helped 2 000 refugees to return home,” said Nyambera.

The UNHCR spokesperson asked that government to ensure no refugees are provided with Kenyan national identity cards instead remain with the refugees identification cards to allow for easier identification while in the country.

“UNHCR is not to blame for some refugees possessing Kenyan IDs. We do register asylum-seekers and issue them with the required refugee card.   The government has the responsibility to ensure that whoever is registered and issued with an ID is the right citizen,” warned Nyambera.

However, he insisted all refugees will be repatriated voluntarily as earlier agreed upon with the government so that the proposed forced repatriation does not interfere with the education of children in camps.

“Women and children will be the most affected group in case of forced repatriation to Somalia. Children’s education will be interfered with and we don’t want this to happen,” said Nyambera.

The National Assembly caucus on human rights also condemned the government’s proposed three-month ultimatum of moving the Dadaab refugees to Somalia saying the repatriation should be done systematically in line with the international laws.

The MPs maintained that the proposed forced repatriation contravenes the human rights provisions and warned that they will ensure the government adheres to the laid down international laws.

The government’s push for refugees to leave the country is in response to a series of terror attacks in the country on claims that the attacks are plotted by Al-Shabaab terrorists who sneak into the refugee camps while disguising as asylum-seekers.

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