NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – THE Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has raised concern at plans to close the Dabaab refugee camp in Kenya.
While its has offered refugee to thousands of refugees, mostly fleeing the political problems in Somalia, the centre is also feared to be abreeding ground for Al Shabaab terrorists.
Its closure however will affect some 300 000 refugees estimated to live at the camp.“These numbers, however, represent the tip of the iceberg – and, taking new arrivals into account, the camp’s population is remaining more or less the same.
This means that any feasible plan to close Dadaab in the near future will require forced repatriations, which are of dubious legality – especially if refugees are made to return to Somalia,” explained Andrews Atta-Asamoah, a senior researcher with the South African-based ISS.
“That has a lot of legal implications. One is that once you move the refugees into Somalia, they are no longer refugees; they are internally displaced persons [IDPs]. The whole range of laws and humanitarian responses that applied to refugees on the Kenyan side suddenly might not apply. It has implications on fundraising and on the willingness of humanitarian actors to work on the Somali side of the border.”
Firstly, Atta-Asamoah said, Kenya was obligated under international law to provide refuge for persons fleeing from conflict, as per the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, both signed by Kenya.
“The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has repeatedly warned that any unilateral closure of the camp, without adequate provision for the resettlement of its population, would violate these obligations. To its credit, Kenya has vowed to uphold its obligations,” said the ISS official.
Dadaab is said to be the world’s largest refugee camp. It is also, according to Kenya, a hotbed of al-Shabaab activity and a staging ground for terrorist attacks.
– CAJ News