10 December 2012

Kenya: Time to Send Somali Refugees Back Home - Raila

Photo: Capital FM/File
Time to send Somalis home.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga says it is not enough to return Somali refugees associated with terror attacks to the Dadaab camp, as proposed by Internal Security Permanent Secretary Mutea Iringo on Saturday, terming it a stop gap measure.

The Prime Minister wants the Somali refugees immediately repatriated blaming them for the increase in terror activity within Kenya's borders.

"We have discussed the security situation there (in Eastleigh) because this is a recurring issue. There must be measures put in place to deal with it, not just as a stop gap measure but on a permanent basis so that there is security in the area."

"The government has already ordered a crackdown to get all the people who are illegally residing in our country to places where they belong."

His statement comes in response to a grenade attack outside Hidaya mosque after Friday prayers in Eastleigh that resulted in five deaths and the injury of Kamukunji MP Yusuf Hassan.

"This is of course a terrible incident... very shocking. I had an opportunity to meet with the Member of Parliament for Kamukunji who is in Aga Khan Hospital last night and he's very badly injured."

The terror attack occurred only two days after a roadside explosion killed one and wounded eight others in the same estate.

Iringo revealed on Saturday after visiting the MP that some Somali refugees who have escaped the Dadaab camp are responsible for the attacks adding that a total of 92 suspects had been arrested in relation to the bombings and would be charged in court.

Iringo backed Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Ongeri's assertion in October that Somalia is now safe enough for those who fled the former Al-Shabaab strongholds to return and that the government is indeed in talks with the UN refugee agency to expedite the process.

Ongeri expressed concern in October during the United Nations' 67th anniversary celebrations that refugees have become a security threat.

Dadaab is the largest refugee camp in the world providing temporary shelter to over 630,000 persons; a hundred and forty thousand of whom sought asylum following the Kenya Defence Force (KDF) incursion into Somalia in a bid to flush out the Al-Shabaab, a terror organisation linked to Al Qaeda.

Humanitarian organisations have termed the move hasty saying the situation on the ground is not yet stable and repatriated refugees would be subjected to substandard camps leading to shelter and sanitation concerns.

Somalia elected a new president in September following the KDF capture of Al Shabaab stronghold Kismayu but there are still pockets of resistance with African Union forces capturing the town of Jowhar from Al Shabaab militants on Sunday.

President Mwai Kibaki also went on record in May asking the European Union to back the repatriation of Somali refugees saying they are a strain on Kenyan resources and that through the joint efforts of the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Kenya's Defence Forces and the Transitional Federal Government, safe areas had been created that can host Somali refugees in their country.

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