Case involving the government plans to close the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps to return to the courtroom in a month, according to reports.
Kenya’s High Court has temporarily blocked the closure of two refugee camps hosting more than 400,000 people, media and activists say.
On March 24, Kenyan Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i announced the government’s intention to close the Dadaab and Kakuma camps, giving the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) two weeks to present a plan to this effect. The ministry called it an “ultimatum” and said there was no room for further negotiations.
The court on Thursday suspended the fence for 30 days, according to a court copy seen by news outlets. It arose out of a petition filed by a local politician challenging a decision to close the camps.
Some of us haven’t slept on it. Finally, an order suspending the execution of the ultimatum was issued by the High Court. A threat to one right is a threat to all rights! pic.twitter.com/KqREePjHzr
– Peter Solo Gichira (@sologish) April 8, 2021
In March, UNHCR urged the government to ensure that those in need of protection continue to get it, and pledged to continue the dialogue.
“The decision would have an impact on the protection of refugees in Kenya, including in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” UNHCR said in a statement.
The Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps in northern Kenya together host more than 410,000 people, mostly from Somalia but also from countries like South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Citing national security concerns, the Nairobi authorities first signaled their intention to close the Dadaab camp, which is closer to the Somali border than Kakuma, in 2016.
This plan was blocked by the High Court, which called the decision unconstitutional.
Kakuma, home to over 190,000 refugees, is located in northwest Kenya. Dadaab is in eastern Kenya, near the Somali border, but many Somalis have moved between the two camps.
Dadaab was established three decades ago and was once the largest refugee camp in the world, which at its peak hosted more than half a million people fleeing violence and drought in Somalia.
“It’s very terrifying because we don’t know the next step, like where are we going to go from here,” David Omot, an Ethiopian who has lived in Kakuma and Dadaab since 2005, said of the order. closing. “Where will we go? At home, we still have some insecurity, there are still problems that people are facing, especially young people.
Austin Baboya, a 26-year-old South Sudanese based in Kakuma, said he knew of no other home than a refugee camp.
“I don’t know if the [Kenyan] The government has sat down and looked at the lives of the people living in the camp where they just wake up and make those decisions, ”Baboya said, calling on UNHCR and international donors to help find a solution.
“Before the camp opened, scores of people lost their lives. Very many people have fled their country of origin… They have found a home and I don’t think many of them are ready to return.