Dadaab, Kakuma camps closure ultimatum extended to June

The Government has extended the planned closure of Daadab and Kakuma refugee camps to the end of June 2022.

The decision followed a meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi on the status of the Dadaab and Kakuma camps on Thursday.

In a joint statement, the UNHCR and the Government of Kenya will form a joint team to finalize and implement a roadmap on the next steps towards humane management of refugees in both camps.

Both parties have committed to finding alternative solutions to forced displacement while agreeing that refugee camps are not a lasting solution.

“I believe that the Government and people of Kenya will continue to show their generous hospitality towards refugees as they have done for nearly three decades, while we carry on discussions on a strategy to find the most durable, appropriate and rights-based solutions for refugees and asylum-seekers residing in the refugee camps in Dadaab and Kakuma,” said the UN High Commissioner Grandi.

In the period leading to the closure, the government plans to, among other preliminary activities, repatriate refugees to their countries of origin and undertake socio-economic integration of some of the refugees through Work and Residence Permits.

“We are serious about completing the repatriation programme which we started in 2016, in full view of our international obligations and our domestic responsibility. We, therefore, reiterate our earlier position to close both Dadaab and Kakuma camps by June 30, 2022,” said Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i.

Kenya’s decision to close the two camps, which it has maintained for close to three decades, is anchored on security concerns for Kenyans and both camps.

Further, the swelling camps have overstretched their capacity to host populations with the current population estimated at 433,765 refugees living in Dadaab and Kakuma camps.

The government first issued a 14-day ultimatum to the UNHCR for the definite closure of the camps in March this year.

However, the ultimatum faced a setback when the High Court on April 8, suspended the closure of both camps following a petition filed by former Presidential aspirant Peter Gichira  who sought to block the order.

Back in 2016, the government had attempted to close the camps citing national security concerns, a plan the High Court later blocked terming it unconstitutional.

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