Human Rights Watch has released a report accusing the Kenyan government of failing to meet it’s international obligations to refugees by forcibly repatriating Somalis living in Dadaab camp.
The group fears that the returnees might join Islamist group, al Shabaab.Laetitia Bader is a Human Rights Watch researcher for Somalia.
“About 68 percent of people who have gone back so far are children and we spoke to some children, some young men who had returned to Somalia and when they returned to their areas of origin which are still controlled by Al-shabaab, they faced a lot of pressure to join shabaab. According to the UN, over the past year there has actually been an increase in recruitment of children by Al shabaab and this is a real fear of people who have gone back,” said Bader.
Keeping Dadaab open has cost Kenya’s government $7 billion over the past quarter century. The taskforce formed to repatriate the refugees blames UNHCR for not allocating adequate resources towards the program. The Kenyan government however has remained firm on it’s decision to close the camp by November 30 this year.Joseph Irungu is the principal administrative secretary at Kenya’s ministry of interior and the chairman of the repatriation task force.
“The UNHCR was supposed to provide the resources; we were supposed to give these refugees resources as they get back. They are supposed to get non-food items, we need transport for them and we also need a package for their resettlement back in Somalia. So that budget has not been, in my opinion it has not been adequate because like I have told you we have now prepared 126,000 refugees, they are ready, they are sensitized, we have verified them, they are ready to move even tomorrow but we do not have the requisite capacity to move them,” said repatriation task force chairman, Joseph Irungu.
Refugees volunteering to leave are handed a US $400 cash grant from the UN to assist them return and settle in Somalia.
However, the United Nations has struggled to raise funds to provide health and education services to refugees going home.