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Plans to Close Refugee Camps Finalized

The government has issued an official communication to the UN Refugee Agency of its intention to close the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps by the end of June 2022.

Ministry of Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i while making a formal communication to the UN Refugee Agency last Thursday regarding the closure of the camps indicated that the government of Kenya has a road map to ensure smooth transition of the refugees.

Key in its road map the government has stated that it will ensure that the refugees receive socio-economic integration in their countries of origin using their Work/Residence Permits to ensure the mission is waterproof.

In its reply to calls to the government on a 14-day ultimatum to close the camps, the UN Refugee Agency had earlier indicated that it wants enhanced voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity as well as the provision of alternative-stay arrangements to refugees from the East African Community (EAC).

“This would represent a major opportunity for refugees to become self-reliant and contribute to the local economy,” UNHCR’s Representative in Kenya Fathiaa Abdalla had said.

The Agency also wants an acceleration of the issuing of national ID cards to over 11,000 Kenyans who have previously been identified as registered in the refugee database, and continuation of the vetting process for others in similar circumstances.

The Interior Ministry had given the United Nations refugee agency 14 days to come up with a plan to close the camps, stating that “there is no room for further negotiations.”

However, the High Court suspended the directive by the government to close the camps with Justice Antony Mrima issuing temporary orders on April 8, staying the application and enforcement of the directive to close the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps.

The latest development comes just days after the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, stated that Kenya will not close the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps, but will instead seek solutions.

The Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps in northern Kenya are home to over 410,000 people, mostly from Somalia but also from South Sudan and Ethiopia.

The CS was accompanied by his Foreign Affairs counterpart Raychelle Omamo.

By Alice Gworo

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