NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 22 – The government says it will revoke refugee status of Somali’s found to have links with the Al Shabaab militant group, particularly at Dadaab camp.
Internal Security Permanent Secretary Francis Kimemia said those found to have links with the militant group or having a criminal record will be prosecuted and repatriated back to Somalia.
“I wish to warn that refugees who do not abide by the law, or collude with Al Shabaab or any other criminal groups will be prosecuted, their refugee status revoked and will be repatriated back to Somalia,” Kimemia said.
Deadly explosions at the Dadaab refugee camp are often blamed on Al Shabaab sympathisers, some of whom hold refugee status, according to police.
In a terse statement issued late Saturday, Kimemia said the government will no longer tolerate refugees who are out to destabilise the country.
“The heavy burden of hosting over 600,000 refugees over the last 20 years is already sagging and getting out of hand and Kenya cannot afford these increasingly criminalised refugee camps,” the statement from the Office of the President said.
It also urged refugee leaders to work with security agents in ‘weeding out criminals from the camps’.
“These criminals have been attacking security officers and relief or aid workers. This is ungrateful and unacceptable,” the PS said.
Kenya hosts the largest number of refugees fleeing the 20-year-old unrest in neighbouring Somalia.
It has previously protested at the lack of the international community’s support in relocating the refugees back to their country because camps hosting them in northern Kenya are full to capacity.
Most refugees are however, blamed for failing to adhere strictly to the set out rules and regulations governing them, including staying in the camps.
“The government warns refugees loitering out of the camp, to return to the camps or risk prosecution and repatriation,” Kimemia said.
Other refugees have acquired illegally Kenyan national identity cards and are now masquerading as locals.
“Refugees who illegally acquired Kenyan ID’s should return them immediately,” Kimemia said, and warned that “those who fail to return them will be prosecuted and their refugee status revoked.”
The government is particularly concerned about the ID’s issue because some refugees intend to use them to register as voters, yet they are foreigners.
“Those fronting to be registered as voters will similarly be arrested together with those aiding them,” the PS said and announced he has already directed the Directorate of Refugee Affairs to strictly enforce the refugee Protocols and Standard Operating Procedures.