NO FURTHER NEGOTIATIONS

Matiang’i issues 14-day ultimatum to UNHCR on closure of Dadaab, Kakuma refugee camps

Interior CS says there is no room for further negotiations.

In Summary

• Matiang’i who was accompanied by his CAS Hussein Dhado and PS Karanja Kibicho cited terror threats planned from Dadaab and Kakuma refugees camps.

• They also said Kenya and Somalia have no diplomatic relationship to continue hosting the refugees there.

Interior CS Fred Matiang'i and senior ministry officials when they met with a delegation from the UNHCR representative to Kenya Fadhilaa Addala on March 23, 2021.
Interior CS Fred Matiang'i and senior ministry officials when they met with a delegation from the UNHCR representative to Kenya Fadhilaa Addala on March 23, 2021.
Image: INTERIOR MINISTRY

Interior CS Fred Matiang’i has issued the UNHCR with a 14-day ultimatum to come up with a roadmap on the closure of Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps.

Matiang’i said there is no room for further negotiations.

He made the remarks when he met with a delegation from the UNHCR representative to Kenya Fadhilaa Addala on Tuesday at his office.

Matiang’i who was accompanied by his Chief Administrative Secretary Hussein Dhado and Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho cited terror threats planned from Dadaab and Kakuma refugees camps.

They also said Kenya and Somalia have no diplomatic relationship to continue hosting the refugees there.

The Government team has scheduled another meeting with diplomats from Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and South Sudan on Friday to regularise the repatriation of their nationals from the camps.

“CS Matiang’i issues UNHCR with a 14-day ultimatum to have a roadmap on definite closure of Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps. Says no room for further negotiations,” read part of a tweet from the ministry.

Officials said the UNHCR officials said they will present the matter to their seniors to find an amicable solution to the issue.

Apart from the terror issue, the government team said Kenya’s efforts to have the have war-torn areas where Al Shabaab operates in Somalia to be labelled as terrorist organizations have been hindered continuously.

Kenya seems to have gone on a charm offensive at a time when there is an ongoing maritime case with Somalia in which Kenya has accused the International Court of Justice of failure to honour its request to have the new team of lawyers prepare sufficiently for the case.

Kenya has protested the manner in which the case is being handled.

The number of refugees from Somalia is over 274,000 which is the largest compared to those from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda amongst other neighbouring countries.

It will be the third time Kenya is reviving the push to close down the refugee camps.

A similar attempt was made in 2019 following the dusitD2 complex terror attack in Nairobi in which 21 people were killed.

This is after it emerged one of the five men who attacked dusitD2 came to Kenya through Dagahaley Refugee Camp in the larger Dadaab.

Police investigations showed the unidentified suspect posed as a refugee before he was facilitated and brought to Nairobi to execute the attack.

In 2016, the Government ordered the closure of Dadaab Refugee Camp.

The then Interior Cabinet Secretary the late Joseph Nkaissery cited security, environmental degradation and economic concerns as the key factors that had informed the government's decision to close down the camp.

But in a court ruling in February 2017, Justice John Mativo stopped the plans, saying that Nkaissery and Kibicho had acted beyond their powers.

The court also declared the repatriation of refugees unconstitutional, describing it as discriminative.

The judge directed the Government to adopt mechanisms that would ensure the department dealing with refugee affairs is functioning properly.