Kenya’s High Court has temporarily has halted a move by the government to close the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps housing nearly 500,000 people.
The court issued a stay order on Thursday following a petition filed to the high court that challenged a decision by the Interior Ministry calling on the UN refugee agency to formulate a plan to close the camps as soon as possible. Most of the refugees are Somali.
The case will be initially heard on April 13.
Kenya gave the UN Refugee Agency a 14-day ultimatum on March 24 to formulate a plan to close the camps, Kenya’s Interior Ministry tweeted, saying there is no room for further negotiations.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) promptly responded and warned of a catastrophe if refugees are ejected from the Dadaab and Kakuma camps which have a population of 218,873 and 196,666, respectively.
The East African country revealed plans to shut the Dadaab camp in November 2016, citing a security threat to Kenyans.
Kenya alleged that al-Qaeda affiliated al-Shabaab terrorists who attacked Garissa University, killing more than 140 students in 2015, had been facilitated by sympathizers from the camp, citing it as the main reason for the closure.