Kenya to enhance screening of Somali refugees

July 21, 2011 3:58 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 21 – The government will immediately begin screening refugees coming into Kenya from Somalia at border points to enhance security in the country.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga said on Thursday that the government wanted to move away from the current vetting at the Dadaab camp and would instead screen them at the border in a bid to turn back suspected criminals.

“There are those who are genuine refugees, people who are fleeing from famine and those who are also fleeing insecurity from parts of Somalia. But in the process, there are also criminals who take advantage of the situation to get into our country. There are people who are smuggling weapons. This itself is a serious security threat to our country,” the Prime Minister said at a Press conference.

The current drought ravaging the war- torn Somalia has led to an influx of refugees at the Dadaab camp which is currently holding close to 400,000 immigrants.

The camp is meant to hold 90,000 people.

“The overcrowding and the moving in and out of the camps by the refugees is adversely affecting the livelihood of Kenyans in the neighbourhood and also poses security risks,” the Premier noted.

He described the upsurge of immigrants as a serious crisis and called on humanitarian organisations to assist in feeding them.

“If you go and listen to the stories of those women, you will know they are not lying. So it is a serious humanitarian crisis that must be faced. We cannot just say enough is enough, seal the border… you would be killing other people on the other side, that is not human,” Mr Odinga stated.

He noted that 70 percent of the refugees who came into the country were women and children which confirmed that they were economic refugees.

“If the borders were completely closed, these refugees would not have come in,” he said in reference to assertions that the Kenya- Somalia border has been closed since 2007.

“We only allow them to come through certain designated points,” he added.

The Kenyan government has now planned an international conference in Nairobi in late August to address the current humanitarian crisis in the horn of Africa nation.

Mr Odinga also renewed a call to the international community to urgently set up feeding camps within Somalia to stop the exodus to Kenya.

“I have discussed this with officials of the UK and US governments and they have welcomed it. We have verbal commitment from them,” he said.

However, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees cannot engage in this because it is out of its mandate which is to help immigrants.


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