, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 11 – Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery says the decision to close Dadaab refugee camp will not change because it has become a hosting ground for Al Shabaab terrorists.
He says key terror attacks in the country like Westgate, Lamu and Garissa University College that claimed hundreds of lives were planned in the camp hosting more than 600,000 refugees mainly from the war torn Somalia.
“As a result of insecurity created by existence of refugee camps, Kenya suffers the brunt of negative consequences such as travel advisories and poor humanitarian rating with obvious negative consequences to the country’s economy,” he bewailed.
“Some of these attacks were aimed at the interests of our international partners yet Kenya continues to bear the brunt of these attacks on their behalf with negligible support from them.”
To kick-start the repatriation process and subsequent closure of Dadaab Refugee Complex, the Government has already set aside Sh1 billion.
The drastic decision has sparked outrage from the international community, with the United Nations warning of what it described as ‘devastating consequences.’
“Refugee camps are not permanent settlements, they are not migration centres, and yet this seems to be what refugee camps in Kenya have been turned into,” the CS stated.
“Refugee camps are supposed to be a temporary humanitarian remedy awaiting stabilization of their countries of origin. Many of you may recall we have hosted refugees from many countries such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Burundi, DRC, South Sudan and Somalia.”
But Nkaissery who spoke at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon said the refugees must be sent back to their countries, having already gazetted a taskforce that will oversee the repatriation process that kicked off in 2014.
“The hosting of refugees has been costly for Kenya. As a country we have been glad to help our neighbours and all those in need sometimes at the expense of our security. But there comes a time when we must think primarily about the security of our people,” he said.
He said the Kenyan tax payers have paid dearly during the 25 years of existence of the camp.
“The camps are now completely overcrowded. They were built for far less numbers and the International Community has never moved to address this. The environmental impact has been disastrous for host communities,” the CS complained.
“Today, you have to dig over 400 metres for water when it was less than 50 metres before the growth of the camps. What is worse is that Kenyans have to pay for water while refugees get it for free, not to mention the enormous economic cost to businesses in Kenya furthered by the use of the camps as smuggling centres for contraband goods.”