Even refugees have a right to dignity, Amina says in defence of Dadaab closure

September 21, 2016 11:58 am
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Deputy President William Ruto and Ambassador Amina meet with UN Secretary General on sidelines of UN General Assembly/COURTESY
Deputy President William Ruto and Ambassador Amina meet with UN Secretary General on sidelines of UN General Assembly/COURTESY

, New York, USA, Sep 21 — Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Amina Mohamed has urged the global community to support countries hosting a huge number of refugees, in accordance with the principle of burden sharing.

“Members of the international community should join hands in meeting the needs of refugees especially the provision of basic necessities, utilities as well as health and educational facilities,” said Mohamed.

At the same time, the Cabinet Secretary called on the international community to provide support that will enable Somali refugees returning to their country to begin the process of rebuilding their lives.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Ambassador Mohamed said running refugee camps is an extremely expensive affair which host countries cannot shoulder single-handedly.

“Kenya has hosted among the largest number of refugees in the world in the last three decades and the burden our country has continued to endure remains disproportionate,” said the Cabinet Secretary.

She added: “As at May 2016, Kenya was hosting about 600,000 refugees and asylum seekers. Out of these, 184,309 are hosted in the Kakuma Refugee camp and 348,130 at the Dadaab complex. Another 64,632 are mostly self-reliant and reside in various urban areas in the country”.

Ambassador Mohamed said the signing of the ‘Tripartite Agreement for the Voluntary Return of Somali Refugees’ on November 10, 2013 was an effort towards containing the challenges associated with the large number of refugees in the country.

“We hoped that the burden we have been shouldering in hosting huge numbers of refugees would be lifted through a coordinated strategy for the orderly and humane return and resettlement of refugees from the camps in Kenya,” said the CS.

“Although slow, the repatriation exercise has been ongoing and is being undertaken in a humane manner and in conformity with international obligations, guided by a plan whose timelines have been submitted by the UNHCR,” added Ambassador Mohamed.

The Cabinet Secretary defended the decision to close the Dadaab refugee camp saying there is adequate evidence the camp has been infiltrated by terrorists adding that it is anticipated that the population of Dadaab Camp will be reduced by at least 150,000 by the end of 2016.

“I must mention that refugees have been living in crowded, insecure and squalid conditions that are simply unacceptable. The closure of Dadaab camp, which has been in existence for over 25 years, will therefore not only end a life of decades in exile, but also enable the refugees to regain their human dignity,” said Mohamed.

The Cabinet Secretary stressed the need for the international community to help returnees reintegrate with their communities and earn decent livelihoods.

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