Kenya: Bishops Appeal to Government Not to Close Kakuma and Daadab Refugee Camps

Kakuma refugee camp (file photo).

Nairobi — The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) has appealed to the Government not to close the Kakuma and Daadab refugee camps amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The Government should reconsider their position and treat all refugees with care and concern especially during this period of Covid-19 pandemic when humanity is faced with serious economic and psychological challenges," KCCB said in a statement signed by Archbishop Philip Anyolo, chairman of KCCB.

According to the bishops Kenya has been a host for about 400,000 refugees and asylum seekers which is commendable and noble. KCCB has raised concern on the involuntary repatriation amidst the global pandemic.

"In the Daadab camp the Somali are the majority, under the International law the refugees can return to their country once there is good governance, a democratic government that respects human rights and rule of law is in place and conditions have changed," the Bishops said.

Cabinet Secretary for Interior Fred Matiang'i on March 24 announced the government's intention to shut the Dadaab and Kakuma camps, giving the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) two weeks to present a plan to do so.

"UNHCR is concerned about the impact this decision would have on the protection of refugees in Kenya, including in the context of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. We will continue our dialogue with the Kenyan authorities on this issue," reads a statement issued by UNHCR on March 24.

Due to Covid-19 pandemic, "These brothers and sisters of ours living in the camp have become more vulnerable due to the Covid-19 pandemic," KCCB said adding that this demands certain health measures to be observed in order to stay safe.

In their statement, KCCB recommends that Government engages in dialogue with the stakeholders to find a long lasting solution for the refugees because the situation in Kenya requires a well-detailed approach to those that need protection granted by the state in the case someone who has left their home country due to political reasons and support to those that return voluntarily.

KCCB encourages the Government to enhance security for the refugees and show support to the stakeholders and the refugees and ensure that they receive their basic needs.

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