Why Kenya is on Thin Ice Trying to Send Somali Refugees Away

In March 2021, the Kenyan government gave the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees a 14-day ultimatum to submit plans for the closure of the country's two main refugee camps. The camps in northern Kenya - Dadaab and Kakuma - hold more than 400,000 people. Kenya emphasised there would be no room for further negotiations. Planned terror threats from the two refugee camps were cited as the main reason behind the closure. Apparently similar threats were received by the government in 2017, which led to their attempt to close the Dadaab camp - a move that was blocked by the country's high court, which called it unconstitutional. Under the guise of "security", the state has abused its executive authority and disregarded its commitments to international humanitarian obligations. By accusing refugees of instigating acts of terror - the Kenyan government is compromising their social, economic and political rights as set out in international law. Somali refugees should not be compulsorily returned to Somalia - unless an exception applies in an individual case. Refugees forced back home face considerable risk. For example, Somalia cannot guarantee the sustainable safety and dignity of returning refugees. This is because the state is virtually absent in large parts of the country, writes Oscar Gakuo Mwangi for The Conversation Africa.


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