Kenya aims to cut size of Somali refugee camp by about half by end-2016
26 June 2016, 14:40
Nairobi (Reuters) - Kenya aims to reduce by almost
half the population of Dadaab refugee camp which is home to
about 326,000 mostly Somali refugees by the end of the year, a
committee that groups Kenya, Somalia and the U.N. refugee agency
Kenya has said it wants to close the camp, which was once
home to more than half a million refugees, citing security
threats. Nairobi says the Somali Islamist group al Shabaab has
used the camp as a recruiting ground to launch attacks on Kenya.
But Kenya has been urged by the United States, the United
Nations and others to ensure no one is forced to return to
Somalia, which is still struggling to rebuild after decades of
conflict and continues to face an Islamist insurgency.
After a meeting on Saturday, the so-called Tripartite
Commission said Dadaab had 326,000 refugees at the end of May,
already 100,000 fewer than five years earlier, many of whom it
said were believed to have returned to Somalia.
"The parties noted the prospect of the reduction of the
population in the Dadaab camps by 150,000 individuals by the end
of 2016," the joint communique said, referring to string of
sites that make up the Dadaab camp complex.
It said the number would be reduced due to "voluntary
returns to Somalia, relocation of non-Somali refugees, the
de-registration of Kenyan citizens who registered as refugees,
and a population verification exercise."
The U.N. had said earlier this year it planned to reduce the
number of people in Dadaab by 50,000 by the end of 2016, but had
said that could be a challenge given continued security concerns
in Somalia and lack of schools and other public services there.
A U.N. official said on Sunday that the new target of
reducing the Dadaab population by 150,000 was a prospective
figure and it was not guaranteed to be achieved.
The Tripartite Commission also said it had agreed to meet
again in October 2016 to review progress made "on the voluntary
repatriation of Somali refugees from Kenya."