NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 16 – The Government of Kenya on Wednesday extended the deadline for the closure of Dadaab refugee camp by six months.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery said the move followed a request from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other considerations, especially the environmental impact and threats to security.
“I wish to announce that the government has accepted a request to extend the deadline for the completion of repatriation of Somali refugees and eventual closure of the Dadaab Refugee Complex Camp by six months,” he stated.
He announced that an elaborate repatriation programme will be rolled out in December to ensure that all refugees will be moved out in a humane manner.
“The repatriation will continue to be carried out in a humane , safe, and dignified manner that ensures none of the refugees is put in harm’s way,” he explained as he gave the government’s assurance that the exercise will be done according to the international standards.
The programme detailed repatriation activities that will take place during the six months.
In the first month, the process will examine issues of double registration; “where some refugees have irregularly registered as Kenyans while on the other hand some Kenyans have registered as refugees.”
During the second month, the exercise will focus relocating the refugees to other UNHCR camps followed by relocation to other countries in the third month.
In month four and five, the exercise will mark the end of relocating the refugees from the camp to Somalia after which the camp will be shut down during the sixth month.
Upon closure of the camp, Nkaissery announced that the government will embark on an environmental rehabilitation exercise to refurbish the camp that has been home of thousands of refugees for decades.
Kenya has so far repatriated more than 16,000 refugees to Somalia, with many more still at the camp which is the largest in the world.
Following its announcement on the extension of closure of the camp, Nkaissery announced that Nairobi was set to hold a special IGAD summit to discuss Somalia and other matters affecting the region.