Garissa governor Ali Korane has urged agencies operating under the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) at the Dadaab camp to extend their scope of coverage reciprocate the good will of the host community.
Korane asked the agencies to extend the initial 50 kilometer radius of their humanitarian assistance to the host community to at least 100 kilometers inorder to compensate the natives for hosting the refugee population for over 25 years.
The host community has on numerous occasions complained of the UNHCR policy of only considering people who are within the 50 kms radius for projects and assistance as ‘wrong’.
Speaking in Dadaab sub-county when he visited UNHCR Dadaab Sub-office where he met humanitarian organisations catering for the refugees, Korane said that it was only through the extension that a larger population of the affected locals can get assistance.
The governor said that the environmental degradation emanating from the refugee settlements has impacted the entire county and such assistance should not be limited to 50 kms radius ‘as it were’.
Korane also appealed to the national government to only repatriate refugees who are voluntarily willing to go back to their home country.
“UNHCR should carry out any repatriation exercise only out of the refugees’ volition in accordance with the Tripartite Agreement on Voluntary Repatriation,” Korane said.
Since the exercise begun some 3 years ago, the population of refugees in Dadaab Refugee Complex has shrank from over 600,000 to about 200,000.
The governor also toured Ifo 2 to inspect part of the shs 1.1 billion worth of infrastructure UNHCR is set to hand over to the county and national governments and to the community following the closure of the refugee camp along with Kambi Os.
The facilities include fully furnished hospitals, schools and police stations.
In March in 2017 President Uhuru Kenyatta said that the Dadaab refugee complex will have to be closed for the good of the region.
At a joint press conference with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, President Kenyatta argued that the camp as it is today no longer serves its original purpose of offering temporary shelter to refugees.
The move to close down the camps has however been met with strong resistance from the UN body and other rights groups who have urged the government to have the plan abandoned altogether.
By Jacob Songok