Defends closure of Dadaab camp
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.
Deputy President William Ruto chats with UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon during the UN General Assembly meeting in New York yesterday