Kenya: UN Backs Govt’s Stand on Closure of Dadaab Refugee Camp

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The United Nations (UN) has finally bowed to Kenya’s firm stand on the closure of Dadaab camp and pledged to seek funds to ensure the refugees are repatriated safely.

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said President Uhuru Kenyatta and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held a meeting on the sidelines of the European Union Development Day summit in Brussels, Belgium on Wednesday and agreed to ensure the refugees are treated with dignity.

Ms Mohamed said Mr Ban had said he understood Kenya’s decision and its determination to close the camp and that he had thanked Kenya for hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from neighbouring countries for many years.

“The UN secretary-general said he understands Kenya’s decision to close the refugee camp,” she said at the Sheraton Brussels Hotel.

She stated: “It is now an internationally accepted fact that the closure of the Dadaab refugee camp is going to be done and the refugees have said they are not opposed to it”.

The development is likely to bring to an end international criticism against Kenya after it decided to close down the largest refugee camp in the world because of mounting insecurity and environmental degradation.

President Kenyatta has stuck to his government’s decision despite pleas from UN High Commissioner for Refugees Fillipo Randi and Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Yesterday, Ms Mohamed said Mr Ban had indicated that the final details of the repatriation would be agreed on next month in Nairobi, when Kenya would host a meeting on the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

The meeting will also set the timelines.
 
Ms Mohammed said the repatriation would cost about Sh11 billion and that donors had so far only raised Sh720 million.
 
She said the repatriation had already started and that a total of 14,000 refugees had been flown back to Somalia.

During the meeting, President Kenyatta said the camps had been used as bases by al-Shabaab terrorists to plan and execute attacks on Kenya.

It was also agreed that the African Union Mission to Somalia troops would join the UN peacekeeping force, a decision that would be ratified by the five permanent members of the world body’s Security Council.

President Kenyatta delivered the African Union’s position that the UN should step in to support Amisom in Somalia with a view to converting it into a UN peacekeeping mission.

“The United Nations should consider fully supporting Amisom at all levels commensurate with similar UN peace enforcement missions as well as put in place timely modalities for the transition from Amisom to a UN mission,” he said.

Ms Mohamed said Mr Ban had also promised to take the AU’s proposal to the UN Security Council, which would make the final decision on the matter.