In April 2021 (ALJAZEERA, 2021), the Kenyan government announced its plans to close Kakuma and Dadaab Refugee Camp located in Turkana West, Turkana County, Kenya by 30TH June 2022 (Obala, 2021). These two camps have been a place of refuge for displaced people from the East African Community (EAC) for 31 years now since their establishment in 1991.
The closure plans for Kakuma and Dadaab Refugee camps came about after insecurity claims of radicals recruiting youths for Alshabaab- a local, terror Islamic extremist group operating in Somalia and Kenya (OCHA, 2021).
Alshabaab, infamous for crimes against humanity in Kenya, presence is heavily felt on the Kenyan Coast, the Eastern portion of Kenya, and the capital city, Nairobi. According to the Kenyan interior minister, Fred Matiang’i, the two camps especially Dadaab has been a source of insecurity and recruitment base for the terror group’s soldiers.
For these reasons, in March 2021, the Kenyan government gave United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) a 14-day ultimatum to prepare plans for the closure of Kakuma and Dadaab Refugee camps. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Government of Kenya, announced in a join-statement in April 2021 available options for refugees living in these two camps (OCHA, 2021):
Voluntary Repatriation in safety and dignity: refugees are relocated to other countries of their own will.
Resettlement to nearby countries within the African continent: this option is available to refugees who are at risk of endangerment when returned to their home countries and can’t be resettled elsewhere due to restrictions.
Resettlement in Kenya: refugees are integrated within the Kenyan population, given Identification Cards, and freely issued with work permits.
Fortunately, after negotiations, the Kenyan government officials and UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi announced that the camps will remain open as they seek solutions to the current problems.
On April 8th of the same year, the Kenyan High Court denied the government’s move to shut down the two camps for it was a blatant violation of international law (Peter Muiruri, 2021). It’s clear that the Kenyan government and the UN will have to find a humane way of managing refugees which will not infringe on their human rights.
ALJAZEERA. (2021, April 29). Kenya says Dadaab, Kakuma refugee camps to close next year. Retrieved from Aljazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/4/29/kenya-says-dadaab-kakuma-refugee-camps-to-close-next-year
Obala, R. (2021, December 8th). UN meet to discuss Kenya's deadline to close Kakuma, Dadaab refugee camps. Retrieved from The Standard: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/national/article/2001431293/un-meet-to-discuss-kenyas-deadline-to-close-kakuma-dadaab-refugee-camps
OCHA. (2021, June 30th). Closing Kenya’s Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps: Thoughts from the ground. Retrieved from reliefweb: https://reliefweb.int/report/kenya/closing-kenya-s-kakuma-and-dadaab-refugee-camps-thoughts-ground?gclid=CjwKCAjw0a-
Peter Muiruri. (2021, April 2021). Global Development: Kenya delays closure of camps housing half a million people. Retrieved from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/apr/30/kenya-delays-closure-of-camps-housing-half-a-million-people#:~:text=Kenya%20has%20again%20postponed%20the,Grandi%2C%20and%20top%20government%20officials.