Court halts Kenya plans to close refugee camp

Daabab aerialMARIA MACHARIA
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – THE High Court in Kenya has blocked the government from closing the world’s largest refugee camp, thereby securing the future of 260 000 Somali refugees seeking sanctuary in the neighbouring country.
In a landmark judgment yesterday (Thursday), Justice John Muting’a Mativo said orders by government to close the Dadaab refugee camp following allegations it had becoming a recruiting ground for Al-Shabaab terrorists was were “discriminatory, excessive, arbitrary and disproportionate.”
The High Court ruling came in response to a petition by two Kenyan human rights organizations, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and Kituo Cha Sheria, supported by Amnesty International, which challenged the constitutionality of the government’s directive to shut down Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, and the Department of Refugee Affairs.
The camp was initially due to be closed on November 30, 2016, but the government announced a six-month delay on ‘humanitarian grounds.’
Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s director for East, the Horn and Great Lakes regions of Africa, said the ruling reaffirmed Kenya’s constitutional and international legal obligation to protect people who seek safety from harm and persecution.
“Today is a historic day for more than a quarter of a million refugees who were at risk of being forcefully returned to Somalia, where they would have been at serious risk of human rights abuses,” said Wanyeki.
Dabaab, in the arid eastern Garissa County has been home to thousands of Somalis that have settled at the camp since 1992 when political problems and terrorism in their country peaked.
CAJ News

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