Closure of Daadab and Kakuma camp.

Kenya has communicated its intentions is to shut down two major camps, Daadab and Kakuma, by June 2022. Kenya has given the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) a two-week ultimatum to come up with a road -map to close the Dadaab and Kakuma. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) chief Filippo Grandi on a meeting agreed that a joint team will be formed to finalize the implementation of a road map toward the closure of the camps.

Kakuma camp in northern Kenya hosts nearly 200,000 refugees and asylum seekers, the majority from South Sudan’s civil war. Home to more than 190,000 refugees, is located in Kenya’s northwest was established in 1990s. Dadaab is in eastern Kenya, close to the Somali border, but many Somalis have moved between the two camps. Dadaab was established 30 years ago and was once the world’s largest refugee camp, which, at its peak, hosted more than half a million people fleeing violence and drought in Somalia.

Some officials say the camps have been used as recruiting grounds based for launching terrorist attacks in Kenya without providing conclusive proof. Others have seen the move to close the camp as retaliation against Somalia amid a rift between the two countries. Somalia still insists to pursue a case at the International Court of Justice over a disputed maritime border with Kenya, which wants the case settled out of court. While the government feels refugee camps are not a long-term solution
Something even UNHCR agrees with and the two parties are working to find alternative solutions under the Global Compact.

consequently, a joint team comprising officials from the Kenyan government and the agency will be formed to finalize and implement a road map on the next steps towards humane management of refugees in both camps. The UNHCR’s measures include a voluntary return for refugees in safety and dignity, departures to third countries or alternative stay options in Kenya for certain East African refugees. Also, Kenya is set to offer free work or residence permits for refugees from East African countries to integrate into Kenyan communities

Kenya first announced its intentions to shut down the camps in 2016,  but a Kenyan court in 2017 blocked the closure of Dadaab and Kakuma, saying it was not safe for refugees to return to Somalia. A push by Kenya’s government to shut down the camps sooner was blocked after the country’s High Court issued a temporary 30-day order following a legal challenge filed by former presidential aspirant Peter Gichira that sought to block the closure.

The government and people of Kenya will continue to show their generous hospitality towards refugees as they have done for nearly three decades, while we carry on discussions on a strategy to find the most durable, appropriate and rights-based solutions for refugees and asylum-seekers residing in the refugee camps in Dadaab and Kakuma.

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