Dadaab refugee camp

President Uhuru Kenyatta has restated that the country will not change its decision to close the Dadaab refugee camp – shelter to more than 300,000 Somalis.

A statement from his office shows he has responded to UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson that the decision “is not reversible”.

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He added:

“The train has already left the station. It’s now up to those who are interested at seeing the success of the journey to come on board.”

Aid groups and the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, has expressed concern over the impending closure. Mr Kenyatta said the repatriation process would be done with great care.

In a statement, the government said that the camps would close because of the security and financial burden it poses to the country, after which the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR called on the government to have a rethink on its decision to shut down two massive refugee camps in the country.

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According to UNHCR

“It is with profound concern that UNHCR takes note of this announcement. For almost a quarter of a century Kenya has played a vital role in East Africa and the Horn of Africa in providing asylum to people forced to flee persecution and war. The safety of hundreds of thousands of Somalis, South Sudanese and others has hinged on Kenya’s generosity and its willingness to be a leading beacon in the region for international protection. Tragically, the situations in Somalia and South Sudan that cause people to fleeee are still unresolved today.”

The agency, while pleading for the camp to remain in existence, had pointed out what the country has so far gained from her generosity through the agency.

Kenya had made the announcement before without implementing it, but this time the government has maintained that it is closing its refugee department and will start sending back up to 600,000 refugees to their countries – of which are mostly from Somalia and South Sudan.