, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 29 – Human Rights Watch has reiterated the need for the Kenyan government to abandon plans to relocate Somali refugees and asylum seekers from urban centres to refugee camps.
According to the organisation, the plan is unlawful as it discriminates between Kenyan citizens and refugees.
Human Rights Watch Senior Refugee Researcher Gerry Simpson pointed out that transferring refugees from cities to closed refugee camps would limit their access to basic human rights.
“The government’s plan to relocate 55,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers from Kenya’s cities to the camps is unlawful under international law as it includes a violation of refugees’ right to freedom of movement and a violation of their right not to have access to basic economic and social rights as these are reduced,” he said.
He further stated that the security situation in the refugee camps is deplorable.
“This will also be a violation of the laws against forced evictions because to force people from the cities into camps will interfere with their rights,” he stated.
“The Kenyan High court is due to rule on the matter in the next four weeks and we do not know which way the court will rule but we have set out clearly in our report why we think that plot is unlawful.”
This will also be a violation of the laws against forced evictions because to force people from the cities into camps will interfere with their rights – Simpson
He was speaking during the launch of a report on the abuse of Somali refugees living in the country where he indicated that the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government should liaise with other organizations to prepare the Kambioos camp in Dadaab for the voluntary transfer of refugees from other overcrowded camps in Dadaab.
He further emphasised that the government should not introduce any other measures or take actions aimed at forcing refugees and asylum seekers to leave urban centres.
He stated that aid organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) should be allowed to carry out and plan their work with all refugees in Kenya until it is safe for them to return to their country.
He called on the Department of Refugee Affairs to re start the registration of asylum seekers and renewal of refugees’ papers in urban areas immediately.