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04 Nov 2016 description

The Kenyan government’s threat to close the Dadaab refugee camp by the end of November would not only endanger the lives of several hundred thousand Somali refugees but has already caused irreparable harm and damage.

08 May 2016 description

Earlier today, the Kenyan government issued a deeply troubling statement on the closure of Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps. Citing national security concerns, Ministry of Interior Principal Secretary Dr. Eng Karanja Kibicho announced that “hosting of refugees has come to an end.” The statement is a major blow to the most basic fundamentals of refugee rights.

09 Sep 2014 description

Somali refugees in Kenya are facing pressure on multiple fronts. Earlier this year, the Kenyan government announced that all urban refugees must report to refugee camps. At the same time, the government launched a security operation aimed at rooting out alleged members of the Al Shabab terrorist organization from Eastleigh, a predominantly Somali neighborhood in Nairobi. Together, these two initiatives opened the door to increased levels of abuse, extortion, and harassment of refugees by the Kenyan police.

05 Aug 2014 description

By Mark Yarnell

Driving east of downtown Nairobi, the paved road gives way to packed dirt. Our driver navigates the deep potholes, piles of garbage, and stagnant puddles. My RI colleague, Alice Thomas, and I are entering Eastleigh, otherwise known as “little Mogadishu” due to the high concentration of Somali refugees who live here. Many have been here since the early 1990s when war broke out in Somalia. Over the past two decades, they have been joined by thousands more who have fled continued conflict, persecution, and recurrent drought.

11 Jul 2014 description

By Mark Yarnell

Four months ago, the Kenyan government launched a major crackdown against Somali refugees living in urban areas that involved mass arrests, extortion, and even deportations back to Somalia. This week, my colleague, Alice Thomas, and I are traveling to Kenya to assess the deteriorating situation for those refugees.

26 Mar 2014 description

Washington, DC – Refugees International (RI) condemns Kenya’s decision on Tuesday to order tens of thousands of city-dwelling Somali refugees into camps. A similar decision in 2012 was declared unconstitutional by the Kenyan High Court, but not before it sparked violence, harassment, and extortion against refugees at the hands of Kenyan security services. RI calls on the Kenyan government to immediately withdraw this order, and RI asks the United Nations and donor countries to publicly oppose its implementation.

24 Feb 2014 description

By Mark Yarnell

At the same time that the Kenyan government is ramping up pressure for Somali refugees to return home, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has released new international protection considerations for people fleeing southern and central Somalia. The guidelines highlight the continued risks that these people face and stress the need for ongoing international protection of Somali asylum-seekers.

08 Nov 2013 description


  • The Somali government must publicly condemn the short-notice, violent evictions of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and adopt protection guidelines and protocols to prevent forced evictions from both public and private land.

  • The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) must maintain a full-time international protection officer in Mogadishu to work with the Somali government on implementing eviction protection guidelines.

11 Apr 2013 description

I have experienced many challenges living as a refugee in Nairobi for two years. The first challenge is security, which is not guaranteed. I live in Eastleigh, a small neighborhood that has become a Somali enclave. A series of explosions took place here after Kenyan troops entered Somalia.

This caused a reaction among Kenyans, who blamed Somali refugees. Although there is an increased police presence in the area, Somalis are afraid of the police because of the way that they behave towards them.

27 Feb 2013 description

In December 2012, the Government of Kenya announced a directive that would force all refugees living in cities to relocate to camps, and shut down all registration and service provision to refugees and asylum-seekers in cities. This effectively empowered Kenyan security services to unleash a wave of abuse against refugees. That Kenya has not yet gone ahead with a forced relocation plan has led some to believe that the worst has been averted. Yet the directive caused severe harm even without being implemented. Many refugees felt forced to leave Nairobi following severe harassment.

31 Jan 2013 description

Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp is the largest of its kind in the world: a sprawling, jam-packed community housing nearly half a million vulnerable Somali refugees. During a visit this week to one section of the camp, known as Kambioos, my Refugees International colleague and I met a young Somali man named Ahmed who had just arrived by bus from Nairobi.

23 Jan 2013 description

Nairobi -- Refugees International (RI) is deeply concerned about Kenya’s recent decision to move 100,000 city-dwelling refugees into camps. This week, RI’s team in Nairobi interviewed refugees who described the fallout of this decision – including violence, harassment, and extortion suffered at the hands of Kenyan security services. RI therefore calls on the Government of Kenya not to pursue this relocation plan, and to ensure that the rights of all refugees are respected.

18 Apr 2012 description

This article originally appeared in The Guardian.

By Melanie Teff

Over the past few weeks, Kenyan government ministers have made persistent calls for the country's Somali refugees to be "resettled" inside Somalia. These calls echo the sentiments of President Mwai Kibaki, who said at February's London conference on Somalia: "Kenya can no longer continue carrying the burden."

09 Mar 2012 description

Testimony of Mark Yarnell, Advocate
March 8, 2012
Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, U.S. House of Representatives

Co-Chairman McGovern and Co-Chairman Wolf: thank you for the opportunity to appear today. I returned recently from a research trip to Kenya and Ethiopia, and I appreciate the opportunity to share my observations.

01 Mar 2012 description

Mark Yarnell

At last week's London Conference on Somalia, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki called for a “firm and durable” solution to the refugee crisis. This includes the return of Somali refugees from the camps in Kenya’s northeast back over the border into Somalia.

Over the last twenty years, Kenya received the vast majority of displaced Somalis – and continued to during the most recent famine. The Dadaab refugee camp (the largest in the world) is dangerously overcrowded.

17 Feb 2012 description

Tens of thousands of Somali refugees live in Kenya’s cities, but they are often forgotten amid the region’s myriad refugee problems. So on our recent visit to Kenya, we asked how these people have been affected by the (presumed) Al Shabab attacks on Kenyan refugee camps further afield.

16 Feb 2012 description

By Mark Yarnell

My colleague, Melanie Teff, and I are just back from the main staff complex of the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya. Our RI colleagues last visited the camp and met with refugees in October 2011, amid a major influx of Somalis seeking refuge from famine and conflict.

15 Feb 2012 description

Washington, D.C. -- Refugees International (RI) is urging the Kenyan government to resume registration of Somali refugees fleeing drought and persecution in Somalia. Kenya's decision to suspend registration last October has forced many refugees into desperate circumstances and made the volatile security situation in Kenya's refugee camps even worse.

24 Jan 2012 description

January 23, 2012 | Erin Weir

It was six months ago that famine was declared in Somalia. The steady flow of refugees already fleeing conflict was joined by a torrent of new asylum seekers – people fleeing because of hunger and looking for a more hopeful place in which to re-build their lives. During the past six months, hundreds of thousands of people made their way to neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia, and aid organizations scrambled to ramp up their operations in order to serve these new arrivals.