The government of Kenya has stopped shouldering refugees from countries torn by war, insecurity, drought and famine.
It says that hosting the refugees has continued to wear down the country with “very heavy economic, security and environmental burdens on behalf of the region” which should be a collective obligation with the international community.
Kenya plays host to over 600, 000 refugees mainly in Dadaab and Kakuma camps. Some of the refugees have been living in the country for almost quarter of a century.
“Due to the immense security challenges such as threat of Al Shabaab and other related terror groups that hosting of refugees has continued to pose to Kenya and due to the slow nature of their repatriation, the government of Kenya has been forced by circumstances to reconsider the whole issue of hosting refugees and the process of repatriation,” Kenya says.
Efforts to address the issue of repatriation of refugees from Somalia culminated in a Tripartitte Agreement signed between the government of Kenya, Federal republic of Somalia and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR.
The agreement, Kenya says laid grounds for repatriation and eventual closure of all refugee camps.
Under the circumstances, Interior PS Karanja Kibicho notified that Kenya having taken into consideration its national security interests, has decided that hosting of refugees has come to an end.
He said that the government acknowledges that the decision to close these camps will have adverse effects on the lives of refugees and therefore the international community must collectively take responsibility on humanitarian needs that will arise out of the action.
As a consequence, the government also disbanded the Department of Refugees Affairs (DAR) as a first step. Further the government is working on mechanism for closure of the two refugee camps Dadaab and Kakuma within the shortest time possible, he said.
Mr Kibicho also called on the international community to support the initiative so that the process of closing of the camps can be expedited while at the same time minimizing pain and suffering of the refugees.