State ac­cepts to de­lay clo­sure of Dadaab camp by six months

The CS says in the first month, refugees who were “ir­reg­u­larly reg­is­tered” as Kenyans will be dereg­is­tered. Kenyans will also be vet­ted and struck off refugee data

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics - ADOW MO­HAMED @ad­owmo

The gov­ern­ment has bowed to pres­sure to post­pone the clo­sure of the Dadaab refugee camp, six months af­ter it vowed to shut it down by the end of Novem­ber.

In­te­rior CS Joseph Nkaissery yes­ter­day gave a new time­line in which he said the world’s big­gest camp will be closed.

He spoke dur­ing a press con­fer­ence in Nairobi. “The gov­ern­ment has ac­cepted the re­quest to ex­tend the dead­line for the com­ple­tion of repa­tri­a­tion of So­mali refugees. This is essen­tial to the clo­sure of the Dadaab refugee com­plex by six months,” Nkaissery said. “How­ever, the on­go­ing vol­un­tary repa­tri­a­tion will con­tinue un­in­ter­rupted.”

He said in the first month, refugees who were “ir­reg­u­larly reg­is­tered” as Kenyans will be dereg­is­tered. Kenyans, be­lieved to be in the tens of thou­sands, will also be vet­ted and struck off the refugee data.

Nkaissery said in the sec­ond month, all non-So­mali refugees will be re­lo­cated to the Kakuma camp. In the third month, re­lo­ca­tion of refugees to third coun­tries will be com­pleted.

“In the fourth and fifth months, the repa­tri­a­tion process will be com­pleted, while in the sixth, the camp will be closed and en­vi­ron­men­tal re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion to be­gin,” he said.

He was ac­com­pa­nied by So­mali Am­bas­sador Ja­mal Has­san, UN High Com­mis­sioner Spe­cial En­voy to the So­ma­lia Sit­u­a­tion Mo­hamed Af­fey, refugees repa­tri­a­tion task force chair­man Joseph Irungu, among other gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

This came a day af­ter the Lon­don­based Amnesty In­ter­na­tional ac­cused the gov­ern­ment of co­erc­ing refugees out of the camps.

Nkaissery de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tions, say­ing the process is “hu­mane, safe and dig­ni­fied”. “If it is true we are forc­ing them out, we could not have ex­tended the dead­line,” he said.

In May, Nkaissery is­sued an ul­ti­ma­tum to empty the camp by the end of this month. He said the del­i­cate se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in So­ma­lia and re­luc­tant refugees has slowed the process.

Am­bas­sador Ja­mal said his coun­try is ready to re­ceive the refugees. “We are prepar­ing the ground for them to come home. We call on the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to step up ef­forts to raise enough funds to com­plete the process,” he said.

Af­fey said con­di­tions in So­ma­lia re­quire in­ter­na­tional ef­fort to make it con­ducive for re­turnees. “So­ma­lia is slowly com­ing out of decades of con­flict,” he said.

/JACK OWUOR

Ahmed Nur of So­ma­lia’s Na­tional Com­mis­sion for Refugees em­braces In­te­rior CS Joseph Nkaissery at Haram­bee House on Novem­ber 16

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