LAST year the government said Operation Linda Nchi was intended to create the secure environment for 600,000 Somali refugees in Kenya to go home.
There is now a fresh groundswell of hostility following the al Shabaab attack on Westgate. MPs are saying that it is time to close the refugee camps as they have abused Kenyan hospitality.
Dadaab is indeed the biggest refugee camp in the world with 475,000 inhabitants. Government now wants to close down Kakuma with 100,000 refugees.
But other countries host more refugees in total. Pakistan has 1.7 million refugees. Iran, Syria and Germany all host more refugees than Kenya.
Moreover it appears that the Westgate attackers came from Somalia, not from the refugee camps.
By signing the UN Convention on Refugees, Kenya committed itself to helping refugees recognised by the UNHCR which covers most of their costs in the host country.
Refugees do not want to be second class citizens in another country. When it is safe to do so, they spontaneously return home. Kenya does not need to force Somalis out of Dadaab and Kakuma. As soon as conditions are right, they will leave without being asked. In the meantime, Kenya should continue to fulfill its international obligations.
Quote of the day: "In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute." - Thurgood Marshall became the first African-American Supreme Court justice on October 2, 1967