The Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya has been home to more than 350,000 refugees who have sought refuge for over two decades and have continued to enjoy an accommodative asylum space. The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) urges the Kenyan government to reconsider its announcement that the Dadaab camp should be closed within three months and the camp be relocated to Somalia.
This decision came in the wake of the tragic attack in Garissa where 147 individuals – mostly students of the Garissa University College were killed and hundreds others injured. DRC takes this opportunity to send our sincere condolences to all the families affected and to all Kenyans. It was indeed an unfortunate event and DRC as a humanitarian agency that has been operating in Kenya since 2005 stands with the people of Kenya.
“While acknowledging the genuine and real threat that Kenya continues to face in regards to terrorism, and the efforts by the government of Kenya to bolster its national security and secure its porous borders with Somalia, the closure of the Dadaab refugee camp would have dire consequences for the hundreds thousands of innocent refugees hosted in the camp,” says Ann Mary Olsen, International Director for the Danish Refugee Council.
The potential return of the many refugees from one the world's largest refugee camp would have both practical and serious humanitarian consequences. In this regard, the Government of Kenya should reconsider its plans to close Dadaab refugee camp and relocate it to Somalia to avoid a breach of Kenya’s international obligations and the risk of exposing Somali refugees to persecution or other serious harm.
“Somalia is currently in a highly volatile and fragile state with a situation of protracted internal displacement. The majority of the Somali refugees hosted in Dadaab originate from South and Central Somalia, regions where conflict continues and an alarming food insecurity is predicted. A mass return of Somalis to these regions would exacerbate the humanitarian situation in Somalia,” says Ann Mary Olsen.
DRC urges the Kenya Government to reconsider its decision following the Tripartite Agreement on the Voluntary Repatriation of Somalis signed on 10th November 2013. In this agreement, the government of Kenya committed to ensuring that any returns of Somali refugees to Somalia would be voluntary, and take place in safety and dignity. Over 2,000 Somali refugees have voluntarily returned under the pilot project returns facilitated by the UNHCR and the government of Kenya.
“DRC hopes that the government of Kenya will continue to dialogue with UNHCR and humanitarian partners in the spirit of finding durable solutions for the refugees, which is what we all hope for. As a Non-Governmental Organization actively working within the Dadaab camp, DRC remains committed to support the Kenyan government in the protection of the refugees,” says Ann Mary Olsen.
DRC has been working in Dadaab refugee camp since 2005 and has been implementing WASH, livelihood and protection interventions in the refugee camps within the Dadaab complex.
Sebastian Juel Frandsen Communication Advisor/Press & Communication Danish Refugee Council Borgergade 10, 3rd DK - 1300 Copenhagen K Dir: (+45) 3373 5184 Mob: (+45) 2990 7282 Skype: sebastian.juel.frandsen