NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 6 – Amnesty International has urged the Kenyan government to use its influence as a member of the United Nations Security Council to advocate for more resources and opportunities for refugees and host nations.
The agency made the appeal on Tuesday as a 14-day ultimatum issued by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government to close Dadaab and Kakuma refugees camp over insecurity concerns within camps lapsed.
Amnesty International Kenya Executive Director Irũngũ Houghton said instead of closing the camps, the Kenyan government should use its position to galvanize humanitarian funding that will provide support and sanctuary for refugees.
“The international community continues to undermine Kenya’s capacity to provide safety and sanctuary for refugees by inadequate humanitarian funding. Wealthier countries led by the new US administration must also fairly share responsibility by expanding adequate opportunities for third-country resettlement, mass COVID-19 vaccination programs and encourage calls by communities to host refugees,“ he noted in a statement dated April 6.
Houghton said the closure of Dadaab and Kakuma camps without an orderly approach that respects refugee rights invites a humanitarian disaster within the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“Conflict in Somalia and Ethiopia, pre and post-election violence in Uganda and Tanzania as well as the persecution of LGBTI+ communities in Uganda and elsewhere makes voluntary return safe and dignified untenable for most refugees,” he said.
He further urged the Government of Kenya and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, to also review the encampment approach in line with regional and international best practices.
Kenya has argued that the two camps are a security threat and strain the country’s resources.There are also claims the camps are a breeding ground for radicalisation.
For example, the 2013 Westgate Mall attack that claimed 67 lives, was said to have been planned in Dadaab refugee camp, according to investigators.
The two refugee camps are home to thousands of refugees from Somalia and other neighboring countries – with a generation of young ones born and raised there.