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Kenya piles pressure on Somali refugees

25 October 2013, 16:28

Nairobi - The government on Friday said Somali refugee camps were being used as a safe haven for Al-Shabaab militants and the time has come for hundreds of thousands of refugees to go home.

The Cabinet Secretary for Interior, Joseph Ole Lenku said that for many years, Kenya has been host to the largest refugee community in the world, and are host to almost 600 000 refugees. "We have welcomed, with open arms, refugees fleeing from insecurity in neighbouring countries," Ole Lenku told reporters.

"Some of these refugees have abused our hospitality and kindness to plan and launch terror attacks from the safety of the refugee camps. This cannot and should not be allowed to continue," he added.

In the wake of the Westgate attack, several security officials pointed the finger at Dadaab, which is home to over 400 000 people, as being a "training ground" for the extremists.

Ole Lenku stopped short of supporting calls from some lawmakers that the camp be immediately closed, but said Somalia was "now experiencing relative peace" and that Kenya was now "working closely with the government of Somali and UNHCR to ensure that the repatriation process is as smooth and humane as possible."

Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab insurgents claimed responsibility for the Westgate attack, saying it was in revenge for Kenya military action against the group in southern Somalia.



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