Kenya wants donors to pay for Somali refugee eviction plan
Kenya has appealed to donors after its plan to shut down the world’s largest refugee camp and send Somalis back home ran into funding problems, reports said Wednesday.
Kenya threatened to close the Dadaab camps and send home more than 360,000 Somali refugees within 90 days amid security fears in the wake of this month’s Garissa University massacre by Somalia’s Shebab insurgents in which 148 people died.
But foreign minister Amina Mohamed has backtracked on the plan saying there was no timeline for closing Dadaab and that sending the refugees home “will depend on available resources”.
Mohamed proposed holding a pledging conference at which Kenya would request international donors to provide funds for relocation, Kenyan media said.
Mohamed was speaking after meeting Somali and UN refugee agency (UNHCR) officials in Nairobi on Tuesday to launch a tripartite commission on repatriating the refugees.
In November 2013 the same three parties signed a tripartite agreement on repatriating refugees from Dadaab after the Shebab attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall in which at least 67 people died.
Since then 2,000 refugees have voluntarily returned to Somalia, said Mohamed.
Earlier this month Deputy President William Ruto said Dadaab would be shut down as part of a series of measures intended to improve Kenya’s security, triggering dismay among aid agencies and human rights groups.
“We have asked the UNHCR to relocate the refugees in three months failure to which we shall relocate them ourselves,” Ruto said on April 11.
Other measures include the construction of a barrier along Kenya’s 700 kilometre (435 mile) border with Somalia and the shutting down of money transfer agencies and civil society organisations working with Somalis.
“The way America changed after 9/11 is the way Kenya will change after Garissa,” Ruto said.
According to international law, refugee returns must be voluntary and not forced.
Somalia’s UN-backed government has reclaimed control of most towns in recent years but much of the countryside remains under the sway of Al-Qaeda-aligned Shebab insurgents, meaning many refugees feel it is unsafe to return.