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MSF warns Kenya not to close Dadaab refugee camp

18 April 2015, 08:55

Nairobi - The international charity Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has warned against closing the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya and forcibly returning the refugees to Somalia, saying the call from the Kenyan government would have "life-threatening consequences" for hundreds of thousands of people.

The current conditions do not allow for a safe and dignified return of the refugees to Somalia, MSF said in a statement on Thursday.

"Such a drastic measure in an impossibly short timeframe would deprive generations of refugees of any choices for their future," said Charles Gaudry, MSF's head of mission in Kenya, noting safety and medical care are far from guaranteed in Somalia, and in some places, "non-existent."

He therefore urged the Kenyan government to reconsider its decision.

Deputy President William Ruto on April 11 said the government has given the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees three months to relocate the Dadaab refugee camp from Kenya to Somalia.

His remarks came after the attack by Somali militant group Al- Shabaab on Garissa University College left 148 people dead.

The Dadaab camp currently houses more than 350,000 refugees of Somali origin.

The charity also said humanitarian assistance in the camp has been reduced over recent years due to a decrease in the funding received by aid organizations working there.

"Instead, the Kenyan government and the international community should work together to help and protect Somali refugees who have sought shelter in Kenya," Gaudry said.

MSF runs a 100-bed hospital and four health posts in Dagahaley camp, one of the several camps that make up the Dadaab complex.

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