NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has
told visiting UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi,
that the decision to repatriate all the Somalis in Kenya’s
Dadaab refugee camp is final.
Sate House spokesman,
Manoah Esipisu, said Kenyatta on Sunday held talks with Grandi
in Nairobi and urged the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) to support
Kenya’s plan to close Dadaab, which is home to more than 300,000
"That the decision to repatriate the refugees is final, and
that partner organizations such as UNHCR should step up the
plate and work on this process to ensure it can be accomplished
in a humane way and without threat to anyone’s life," Esipisu
told a media briefing.
Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp in northeastern
Kenya, was set up more than 20 years ago to house people fleeing
conflict in Somalia.
Kenya recently announced it will close the camp by December.
During the meeting with the UNHCR chief, Kenyatta said the
decision to close Dadaab was not born primarily out of financial
strain but was rather based on environmental and security risks,
according to Esipisu.
"The camp threatens to destabilize communities and escalate
inter-ethnic tension between groups, among other notable
security threats," Esipisu said.
Kenya claims Somalia-based Islamist group Al-Shabaab, which
has staged several bloody attacks in Kenya in recent years, has
hideouts in Dadaab.
It asked UNHCR to close the camp last April, days after Al-Shabaab
gunmen killed 148 people in an attack on Kenya’s Garrisa
Grandi started a five-day visit to Kenya Thursday to meet
with donor community and assess situation at refugee camps in
Kenya ahead of the repatriation of the Dadaab refugees.
Grandi has visited Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps to assess
the situation there and met refugee representatives, and has
been briefed on the process of voluntary repatriation of Somali
He has also been holding talks with the donor community on
resource mobilization to improve living conditions in Somalia
and support to refugee hosting communities in Kenya.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, during his visit to
Kenya early this week, said his country was ready to receive the
Somali refugees in Dadaab back home.
Both Kenyan and Somali leaders have said the repatriation in
Daddab will be orderly, humane and dignified.
It is not yet clear when the repatriation will begin, but the
Kenyan government has disbanded its Department of Refugee
Affairs, which worked with humanitarian organizations for the
welfare of the refugees.