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Kenya warned against closure of refugee camp

Kenya’s decision to close the Dadaab refugee complex could actually worsen insecurity in the country, Human Rights Watch warned on Wednesday.

“Sending tens of thousands of desperate and destitute people back could force many into the hands of the Al-Shabaab recruiters they fled, exacerbating Kenya’s security problems,” said Leslie Lefkow, the group’s deputy director, Africa division.

The government has cited security concerns as a key factor behind its May 6 declaration that it will require refugees to leave the country.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery said on Wednesday the planned action would focus on the Dadaab complex, which the UN says is home to 328,000 Somali refugees.


While acknowledging that Kenya faces threats of further attacks linked to the Somalia conflict, the group noted that the government had failed to produce “tangible evidence” of Dadaab residents’ involvement in past attacks.

“Most individuals implicated in or prosecuted for attacks have been Kenyans, raising important questions about home-grown radicalisation,” she said.

“Scapegoating refugees is easier than implementing reforms. Kenya needs to address its corruption, weak governance and unaccountable security services,” Ms Lefkow added. “But it won’t help protect Kenyans from the real threats they face.”

The United Nations and the United States have both urged Kenya to reconsider its decision to oust refugees. Such a move would be in violation of Kenya’s international obligations, the UN and US have said.