From MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – SOME refugees that have voluntarily gone back to Somalia following plans to close the Dadaab refugee camp have returned to Kenya after finding conditions in their homeland not conducive.
They now face a dilemma as the Kenyan government is no longer granting refugee status to Somali asylum seekers.
Rights group raised concern Somalis who remained in the refugee camp and did not take the volunteer repatriation package faced a bleak future.
“They will they be forced to return without assistance if the camp closes, and if they do manage to remain in Kenya, will they be left without food assistance and subject to arrest for illegal presence,” said Laetitia Bader, researcher for Africa division, Human Rights Watch.
The Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya houses an estimated 263 000 Somali refugees, making it one the world’s largest refugee camps.
For more than 20 years, it has been home to generations of Somalis who fled conflict.
Earlier this year, Kenya closed its Department of Refugee Affairs and announced its intention to close Dadaab or at the very least drastically reduce the number of refugees in the camp by end of the year.
Based on a 2013 agreement with Somalia and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on “voluntary repatriation” Kenya has been encouraging Somalis in the camp to volunteer to return in exchange for cash assistance.
– CAJ News