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