Kurdistan, Avoid Kenya’s Refugee Mistake
As Kurdistan finds itself in the midst of one of the world’s great refugee crises, there’s a lesson to be learned from the events unfolding at the world’s largest refugee camp in Kenya.
Dadaab refugee camp, in northern Kenya, hosts over 500,000 Somali refugees who have fled from the terror of the Al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabab. Given the influx of refugees into the Kurdistan region, one can certainly appreciate Kenya’s accomplishment of providing refuge for hundreds of thousands over the last two decades since Dadaab’s establishment.
Yet after the recent terrorist attack on Garissa University, which killed 147, Kenya has pointed the finger at residents of Dadaab as potential culprits and security risks, now threatening to send half a million people unwillingly back to Somalia.
"We have asked the UNHCR to relocate the refugees in three months, failure to which we shall relocate them ourselves,” William Ruto, Kenya’s Deputy President, said. "We must secure this country at whatever cost."
While the terrorist attack on Garissa University is an incredible tragedy and might understandably spur new security measures in the country, the senseless exportation of half a million refugees doesn’t bring justice to the murderers—in fact, it only increases the injustice and may well fuel more ethnic tension, which could lead to more attacks.
I’m 100% behind the fight against terrorism, but doing so “at whatever cost” by evicting masses of innocent, homeless families based solely on their ethnic heritage only contributes to creating terror among those who have already fled from it. Developed nations have to consider human rights. This is the very thing that makes the free world free and different from the reign of al-Shabab, ISIS, and other terrorist groups.
Ruto, reacting out of fear, is threatening to do something that will only tarnish Kenya’s solid reputation of coexistence and as an area of refuge.For the sake of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, I hope we’ll see Ruto rescind his threat and continue to welcome those who, like he, are afraid of the terror of al- Shabaab and are seeking a peaceful life in East Africa.
Kurdistan, which now hosts near a million refugees who have come from various backgrounds, may one day find itself in the same situation if, God forbid, an attack occured on Kurdish soil. Beforehand, we must now seek to create an inclusive society that recognizes that there are legitimate ways to fight terror and illegitimate, particularly when it comes to discrimination against an entire ethnic group for the sins of a few. Messing it up and sacrificing human rights, in a moment of panic, will only add to the very terror and human rights abuses that we’re all fighting against and that refugees are running from.