Kenya gives UNHCR ultimatum to devise roadmap on closing refugee camps

March 24, 2021
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Kenya said on Wednesday that it had issued a two-week ultimatum to the UN refugee agency to devise a roadmap on the definite closure of Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps in the northern region.

Fred Matiang’i, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government told the UNHCR that there was no room for further negotiations on the closure of Dadaab refugee camp which mainly hosts refugees from Somalia, and Kakuma camp which hosts refugees from South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Matiang’i made the remarks on Tuesday during a meeting with UNHCR representatives in Nairobi.

“CS Matiang’i issues UNHCR with a 14-day ultimatum to have a road map on definite closure of Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps.

“Says no room for further negotiations,” the ministry said in a tweet.

Sources said Kenya and Somalia have no diplomatic relationship to continue hosting the refugees there.

Kenyan officials plan to meet with diplomats from Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and South Sudan on Friday to regularize the repatriation of their nationals from the camps.

Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, was set up in 1991 years ago to house people fleeing conflict in Somalia.

Kenya, which hosted protracted negotiations that culminated in the formation of the transitional federal government of Somalia, says the refugee situation continues to pose security threats to Nairobi and the region apart from the humanitarian crisis.

The move to close the camps came amid an ongoing maritime case between Kenya and Somalia. Kenya has accused the International Court of Justice of failure to honor its request to have the new team of lawyers prepare sufficiently for the case.

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