WIL­LIAM RUTO

De­fends clo­sure of Dadaab camp

The Star (Kenya) - - News - PAUL ILADO IN NEW YORK @TheS­tarKenya

Speak­ing at the United Na­tions in New York, the Deputy Pres­i­dent sharply crit­i­cised world lead­ers for aban­don­ing more than 600,000 refugees and forc­ing Kenya to shoul­der the hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis on its own. He said some refugees are a se­cu­rity threat as they en­gage in ter­ror­ism, trade in small arms and con­tra­band goods.

Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto has put up a ro­bust de­fence of Kenya’s de­ci­sion to close the world’s big­gest refugee camp, Daadab.

Speak­ing at the United Na­tions in New York, he sharply crit­i­cised world lead­ers for aban­don­ing more than 600,000 refugees and forc­ing Kenya to shoul­der the hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis on its own.

Ruto said some of the refugees are a se­cu­rity threat be­cause they en­gage in ter­ror­ism, trade in small arms and con­tra­band goods. He said they also de­stroy the en­vi­ron­ment.

“The Dadaab Refugee Com­plex has lost its hu­man­i­tar­ian char­ac­ter and has been ap­pro­pri­ated by ter­ror­ists and their agents, trans­form­ing it into a cen­tre of rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion, ter­ror­ist train­ing, plan­ning and launch­ing of at­tacks. It is also a hub for il­licit move­ment of small arms and light weapons,” Ruto said. He spoke on be­half of Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta.

Kenya has wit­nessed many at­tacks by al Shabaab ter­ror­ists. The dead­li­est raid was at the Garissa Univer­sity Col­lege on April 2, 2015, when 148 peo­ple were killed, most of them stu­dents.

Kenya has an­nounced it will close the camp in Novem­ber. It is home to more than 300,000 So­ma­lis and an- other 300,000 peo­ple from other parts of the world.

The United Na­tions refugee agency said at least 24,000 refugees from Dadaab have been as­sisted to vol­un­tar­ily re­turn to So­ma­lia since a tri­par­tite agree­ment was signed in 2014.

Speak­ing dur­ing the com­mis­sion­ing of the Dadaab power sta­tion last week, Wella Kouyou, the deputy rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the UNHCR to Kenya, said in 2016 alone, 18,000 refugees have vol­un­tar­ily gone back to So­ma­lia.

Ruto told the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly Kenya can no longer sus­tain the camp on its own. He urged the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to work with the So­mali govern­ment to re­store peace in the trou­bled Horn of Africa coun­try.

Ruto said there is need to speed up re­con­struc­tion and restora­tion of crit­i­cal ser­vices to sup­port repa­tri­a­tion and re­set­tle­ment.

He said de­spite Kenya in­form­ing the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity dur­ing the 67th Ses­sion of the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly of the un­sus­tain­abil­ity of the camp, and re­quest­ing fi­nan­cial sup­port, noth­ing sub­stan­tial has hap­pened.

The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity pledged Sh50 bil­lion four years ago but less than one per cent of this com­mit­ment has been re­alised.

“As we as­sem­ble here to­day, 86 per cent of the world’s 22 mil­lion forced mi­grants and refugees are hosted in 10 de­vel­op­ing coun­tries,” Ruto said.

\CHARLES KIMANI/ DPPS

Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto chats with UN sec­re­tary gen­eral Ban Ki-moon dur­ing the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly meet­ing in New York yes­ter­day

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