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Kenya reopens registration of asylum seekers

23 May 2013, 13:53

Nairobi - The Kenyan government has reopened registration of asylum seekers mainly from Somalia after six months of closure, the UN refugee agency said in its latest update for Somalia on Thursday.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the Department of Refugee Affairs (DRA) reopened registration of asylum seekers on May 8.

"This means that some 4,000 persons who have arrived to Dadaab since the closure of the latest two-week registration window on November 30, 2012 will now be registered and get access to services," UNHCR said in its Update released in Nairobi.

In November 2013, the government stopped registration of refugees and asylum seekers mainly from Somalia in urban areas and closed all registration centers with immediate effect due to insecurity incidents across the country.

The government also ordered all Somali refugees and asylum seekers living in urban areas to return to the Dabaab refugee camp, located in northeast Kenya.

Acting Commissioner for Refugees Sora Katelo said then that the decision has been informed by rising insecurity where in some cases refugees have been implicated.

Katelo said the government has further stopped registration of asylum seekers and closed all registration centers.

UNHCR and all other agencies that offer humanitarian assistance were also advised to stop offering their services to refugees living in urban areas and instead transfer their assistance to the refugee camps.

Meanwhile, the refugee agency has decried rising insecurity situation in the Dadaab refugee camp which has resulted in killing and injuries of several people in the past two months.

On April 19, masked gunmen killed nine persons in an attack on a hotel in the provincial capital Garissa. The massacre led to a thorough security operation in Garissa town with police conducting house-to-house searches,according to UNHCR.

Over 200 persons including a number of persons of concern to UNHCR were arrested during the operation, while most of the asylum seekers and refugees were released after screening and verification of their legal status.

The refugee agency said perpetrators of the massacre were not apprehended and there was some speculation that they were hiding in the refugee camps.

In another related development on May 6, alleged Al-Shabaab forces fought a fierce gunbattle in Dhobley town inside Somalia, attacking the police station.

UNCHR said a Kenyan army truck also narrowly escaped an improvised explosive explosion device on May 12 in Liboi, the Kenyan border town next to Dhobley.

The perpetrators opened fire at the soldiers and later fled the scene, adding that this was after killing a police reservist in Ifo camp on May 10.

The incidents forced residents to hold demonstration expressing resentment at perceived increased insecurity in the camp.

"The demonstration turned violent and several persons were injured. Six alleged looters were arrested but later released without charges," it said.

Dadaab refugee complex has been subjected to successive explosives attacks by Al-Shabaab operatives in the country following the onslaught by Kenyan soldiers on the Al-Shabaab in Somalia after the militia staged a series of attacks along the northern region.

- Xinhua

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