US asks Kenya to open Somali border

October 23, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 23 – The United States government has appealed to Kenya to review closure of the Somali border and allow fleeing refugees run for safety.

US Assistant Secretary for Refugees Eric Schwartz said on Thursday that despite the closure, the refugee population was still growing rapidly with more coming in illegally.

“Closing the border has not prevented large-scale influx of people from outside the border,” he said.

“We don’t believe that borders should be closed. The way to handle this issue is to move forward with smarter and effective border management which respects the rights of people to flee their countries if they fear persecution or violence but enables the authorities in the receiving countries to have a better idea of who it is that is coming in,” Mr Schwartz added.

He urged the Kenyan government to consider expanding camps to avert a humanitarian crisis.

According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, about 5,000 refugees illegally get into the country every month despite the closure of the border which is a security threat.

“You have more people coming in, the camps getting more congested, more movement where people feel that the camps are not a solution so they go elsewhere in the country and it is just a more difficult circumstance,” Mr Schwartz said.

He said there was need to come up with smart short term solutions to appropriately deal with the situation.

“The Kenyan government may consider coming up with another camp in Daadab area, putting in security management procedures in the camp, so you have a much more ordered situation. It’s not an ideal situation but its better,” he said.

Kenya closed its border with Somalia two years ago as Islamist militia were pursued by Ethiopian and Somali government troops.


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