The one billion shillings (9.9 million US dollars) offered by Kenya in support of repatriating over 300,000 immigrants from Dadaab refugee camp is a good effort but is not nearly enough to relocate the masses safely, explains a spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Kenya.
As the globe observes World Refugee, we acknowledge the United Nations pledging its support for Kenya’s decision to close its largest refugee camp, Dadaab .
“The [Kenyan] government has stated its case and said that it has intentions of closing Dadaab refugee camp, which is the biggest refugee camp in the world with a population of about 340 000 – over 90 per cent of refugees in there are from Somalia,” said Duke Mwancha, Spokesperson, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Kenya.
He adds: “It will have to be a lot more than the 1 billion shillings that Kenya is talking about because in simple mathematics, repatriating thousands of people in a humane and safe way will need a lot of investment, not just for transport home or to provide reintegration grant but places where they return to.”
Mwancha says he sees indications that it could be closed by November 2016 but it has told government that this is not enough time.
“We have told the government that that time is not realistic, it is a very short time under any humanitarian circumstances – refugees cannot be forcefully returned to their home countries, the decision to return has to be decided by them, voluntary and they have to be returned in conditions of safety and dignity.”
According to Mwancha, the country cited some of the reasons for the closure of Dadaab as the camp was a security, economic and environmental burden.
“Kenya has taken up its international responsibility very well and we continue to remind the world that countries need to share responsibility, sharing responsibility cannot be shifting it elsewhere and therefore we will seek to engage the government of Kenya to see how we can work together to find better solutions,” said Mwancha.
He concedes that things have been slow in the past, but that is because it does not have enough financial support but perhaps after working closely with Kenya and engaging other international players, it can find the best way to deal with the situation.
“Places where they return to have to have the right infrastructure, schools, hospitals, security, that will need a lot of money, it is not just Kenya that will have to provide that money, the government of Somalia will have to do its bit, the international community will also have to do its bit,” said Mwancha.
“It is good that Kenya is proposing to provide some money but it’s also good that the international community considers chipping in as well.”