NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 12 – President Uhuru Kenyatta is urging the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to support the government’s initiative to repatriate refugees from the Dadaab camp.
While pointing out that the decision to send the refugees back to their home country is final, State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu reiterated the government’s assurance that it will be done in a humane manner.
He stated that the decision was mainly driven by the environmental and security dangers posed in the country by hosting the refugees.
Kenya has been hosting more than 350,000 Somali refugees for more than two decades.
“This (Sunday) morning, the President met the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. His message on Dadaab is the same. That the decision to repatriate the refugees is final, and that partner organisations such as UNHCR should step up the plate and work on his this process can be accomplished in a humane way and without threat to anyone’s life,” Esipisu told journalists at a briefing in State House soon after the meeting.
Esipisu further indicated that President Kenyatta will also be seeking the European Union support in the initiative during his visit to Brussels set for Monday next week, when he will meet Prime Minister Charles Michel.
“It is the same message the President had for EU Ambassadors and High Commissioner whom he met on Friday. At that meeting, and it is a message he will take to Brussels as well, any assistance to Somalia to facilitate the repatriation would be greatly appreciated,” he explained.
President Kenyatta had earlier stated that the decision to close the Dadaab refugee camp was driven by national security interests.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery recently announced that the refugees will be repatriated by November this year, in line with recommendations of a task force set up to advice the government.
The President said the effects of hosting the refugees were being felt as far as Lamu county and Namanga (Kajiado County) at the Tanzania border.
Besides the Dadaab camp itself, the President said, the refugees extend their threats of terrorism, radicalization, recruitment and environmental degradation to the neighboring counties.
He called on the EU members to continue partnering with Kenya to assist Somalia rehabilitate the returning refugees and rebuild their country.
The President said Kenya has over the past 20 years carried a huge responsibility over the Somalia crisis adding it was now time to assist the Somalis go back to their country.