A Kenyan High Court today quashed a government decision to close the Dadaab refugee camp in the country. According to Justice JM Mativo, the government’s orders were discriminatory, excessive, arbitrary and disproportionate.
The camp which is home to over 260,000 Somali refugees was due to be closed last November but the Kenyan government announced a six-month delay on ‘humanitarian grounds.’ The camp has been home to millions of Somalis fleeing instability in their country.
The planned closure of Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, was decried by international organizations and rights groups citing the fact that it was going to create a humanitarian crisis for Somalia, which is suffering from the activities of Al-Shabaab militants.
The Kenyan government’s reason for closing the camp was premised on security. They described the camp an existential security threat as it served as home to al Shabaab terrorists.
The case challenging the closure was filed by two human rights organizations, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and Kituo Cha Sheria, supported by Amnesty International.
Amnesty International reacts to ruling
Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said about the ruling:
“Today is a historic day for more than a quarter of a million refugees who were at risk of being forcefully returned to Somalia, where they would have been at serious risk of human rights abuses.
‘‘This ruling reaffirms Kenya’s constitutional and international legal obligation to protect people who seek safety from harm and persecution.
‘‘Stopping the imminent closure of Dadaab refugee camp is an essential first step in respecting and protecting refugee rights in Kenya. Now Kenya and the international community must work towards finding alternative solutions for refugees including local integration options.”