Kenya camp closure must be humane - UN refugee chief

2016-06-13 20:30
Children living in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya hold out their hands for food. (iStock)

Children living in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya hold out their hands for food. (iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Nairobi - Kenya's planned closure of Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp, later this year must not result in people being forcibly returned to war-torn Somalia, the UN's refugee chief warned on Monday.

"Repatriation, when it happens, must be in a humane, dignified manner, in line with international principles," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi in Nairobi, at the end of a five-day visit to Kenya and Somalia.

Kenya has vowed to send back 350 000 Somali refugees living in Dadaab in north-east Kenya by November, insisting the camp is a security threat and a drain on national resources.

Nairobi has taken a hard line position, describing Dadaab as a terrorist training ground for Shabaab Islamists, and has publicly and repeatedly said all the Somali refugees would be removed from the country by the end of the year.

But Grandi - who met with President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday - said there was room for flexibility.

"The time frame of a few months is very short. I'm sure it will be longer than November, how long I don't know," Grandi said. "I hope there will not be a scenario of coercion and forced return."

Just 14 000 refugees have taken up the offer of voluntary return since the programme began in December 2014, but Grandi said "tens of thousands" more had returned "spontaneously", meaning without UN assistance.

Grandi said the planned returns would not be conducted unilaterally by Kenya, but in discussion with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the Somali government, and would require financial support from foreign donors to improve conditions in war-torn Somalia and provide a return package of food and money to those who go home.

The vast majority of residents of the sprawling Dadaab complex of camps close to the Kenya-Somalia border fled Somalia's more than two-decades long conflict. Many remain fearful of returning to a country where insecurity remains rife and life tough.

Read more on:    unhcr  |  kenya  |  somalia

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.