United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) on Friday shared with Kenya a proposed set of ‘sustainable and rights-based measures’ aimed at identifying solutions for refugees living in the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps.
“We have heard the concerns expressed by the Government of Kenya and hope that these measures will be a significant step forward in accelerating sustainable solutions for all those concerned,” said Fathiaa Abdalla, UNHCR’s Representative in Kenya.
Among the action items enhanced voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity, while taking into account the movement restrictions related to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Further the UNHCR has proposed provision of alternative-stay arrangements to refugees from the East African Community (EAC). “This would represent a major opportunity for refugees to become self-reliant and contribute to the local economy,”
They further propose acceleration of the issuing of national ID cards to over 11,000 Kenyans who have previously been identified as registered in the refugee database, and continuation of the vetting process for others in similar circumstances.
Resettlement to third countries for a small number of refugees who are not able to return home and face protection risks.
“We believe that through joint renewed actions we can put in place measures that respect refugee rights and lead to sustainable solutions. We look forward to continuing our dialogue and collaboration with the Kenyan authorities and partners on this important matter”, said the UNHCR official.
The Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps in northern Kenya together host more than 410,000 people, mainly from Somalia but also from countries such as South Sudan and Ethiopia.
On March 24, Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i announced the government’s intention to shut the Dadaab and Kakuma camps, giving the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) two weeks to present a plan to do so.
However, on Thursday, the court stayed the closure for 30 days. The move by the court follows a petition filed by a local politician challenging a move to shut down the camps.
Kakuma, home to more than 190,000 refugees, is located in Kenya’s northwest. Dadaab is in eastern Kenya, close to the Somali border, but many Somalis have moved between the two camps.