, KIGALI, Rwanda, May 12 – If there’s anyone who doubts Kenya’s resolve to shut down Dadaab – the world’s largest refugee camp – the misgivings should end.
Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed made it clear on Thursday that the decision was final; there is simply no turning back.
- To kick-start the repatriation process and subsequent closure of the Dadaab Refugee Complex, the Government has already set aside Sh1 billion
- Nkaissery stated: “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.”
- He said the Kenyan tax payers have paid dearly during the 25 years of existence of the camp
“There has been dragging of feet by the international community after we signed the tripartite agreement (on relocation of the refugees); people were not interested… we waited and nothing happened,” she said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Kigali, Rwanda.
She made it clear the relocation was necessary to protect Kenya’s national interests.
“It became an issue of balancing nation security interests and international obligations; I’ve been doing what I am doing (diplomacy) for over 30 years. I’ve never come across a country that puts its international obligations above its national interests,” Mohamed said in defence of Kenya’s decision, which has been criticised by the international community.
She said while it was important for Kenya’s concerns to be taken into account, the welfare of the 300,000 plus refugees was also paramount.
She pointed out that rations were increasingly becoming fewer, education (of children living in the camp) was a concern while the security of the refugees and even officials who visited the camp was always worrying.
“The refugees need to live in dignity; we need to worry about their security safety, nutrition, and education.”
“We are now serious about this and we do not want anyone to have doubts. We have time to do this and want the international community to partner with us to enable us construct villages on the other side of the border to ensure the refugees are comfortable.
On Wednesday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery said Dadaab had become a hosting ground for Al Shabaab terrorists.
“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 regretted.
“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 the 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.’
But Nkaissery stated: “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.”
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.