Kenya’s plans to close the Dadaab refugee camp will have a negative impact on Somali refugees who will be forced to go back to their country where peace and stability is still far-fetched, the UNHCR has warned.
The closure will affect about 350,000 vulnerable refugees and the United Nations is worried about the fate of Somali refugees who have been fleeing civil war since 1991.
“We are ready if the donors support us and I think they will step up what we call repatriation package. These are the items that we always give to refugees to go back but frankly they are very modest here. When I was in Dadaab, one of the main request of the refugees was give us a bigger repatriation package, we can not in a country like Somalia deprived of every thing, we cannot really survive for very long with the little items food and cash that you give us,” UN High Commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi said.
The Kenyan government announced its intentions to close the Dadaab camp before December this year citing the need to maintain national security.
Although not yet proven, Kenyan officials suggest that the camp was used by jihadists to plan attacks targeting the Nairobi Westgate and Garissa University.
The UN High Commission for Refugees says countries like Kenya which are open to refugees need to be supported.
“The operation is for South Sudanese refugees not only in Kenya but other neighbouring countries. Our operation is one of the least funded operations in the world and this is really a shame it shouldn’t be like this and countries like Kenya that continue to be open to receiving refugees need to be supported to do that and the people themselves need support,” Grandi said.
According to the UNHCR, close to 14,000 refugees went back to their countries following the voluntary return programme launched in 2014.
The return of Somali soldiers can only be well done if there is collaboration between the UNHCR, the Kenyan and Somali government, Mr Grandi stressed.
The international community has been called upon to help in the mobilisation of financial resources for the refugees.