The government of kenya through the Ministry of Interior and coordination of National Government has issued a 14 day ultimatum to the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) to close two of the world’s largest refugee camps located in Kenya, the Daadab and Kakuma refugee camps.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i delivered the letter bearing the government’s decision to the UNHCR representative to Kenya Fadhilaa Addala on Tuesday, March 23 which noted with concern the rising terror threats planned from Dadaab and Kakuma refugees camps that have continuously threatened the security and peace of Kenyans.
“There is no room for negotiation. We must strike a balance between Kenya’s international obligation and her domestic duties. We do have a domestic responsibility to protect Kenya,” the letter reads.
In the letter, Kenya cited terror threats as the main reason for its latest request and neglect by other countries to aid in managing the over 500,000 refugees.
Matiang’i, who was accompanied by the Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho and CAS Hussein Dado, said that the past Mpeketoni, Lamu, Garrisa and Westgate attacks were planned and executed from the said refugee camps.
In addition to terror threats in the country and the draining of resources, the CS also noted that the government’s effort to have war-torn areas where Al Shabaab operates in Somalia be labeled as terrorist organizations have been hindered continuously by several actors in the international community.
Some of Kenya’s suggestions to the camps in the past have been denied at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meetings with hampering of humanitarian activities to somalia being cited as the main reason.
Kenya is also currently embroidered in a court case with Somalia over its border, despite Kenya withdrawing the case. Analysts have termed the actions of Somalia as a hostile and thankless neighbor citing the heavy cost that Kenya has paid in trying to bring peace to the war torn country.
If the 14 days elapse, it is expected that Kenya will move ahead and deport the refugees back to their countries a situation that will cause a humanitarian crisis.
Earlier on in 2017, Kenya had ordered the closure of the two camps over terror related activities, however the high court stopped the government from implementing the planned deportation.
With the ongoing hostilities between the two states, it remains to be seen what actions Kenya is going to take.