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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenya informs UNHCR decision to close Dadaab camp is final
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 Somali refugees.

"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 University.

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 refugees.

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.

             

 

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