By Samuel Ouma
Amnesty International has also joined the UNHCR in calling Kenya to reconsider its decision to close Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps.
Amnesty International Kenya Executive Director Irũngũ Houghton noted that Kenya should use its position in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to champion for more resources for refugees and host countries instead of closing the said camps.
Houghton said that the two camps’ closure without an orderly approach that does not undermine human rights would result in a humanitarian disaster.
He added that it is still unsafe for the refugees to return to their countries of origin or other countries for resettlement.
“Conflict in Somalia and Ethiopia, pre and post-election violence in Uganda and Tanzania as well as the persecution of LGBTI+ communities in Uganda and elsewhere makes voluntary return safe and dignified untenable for most refugees,” Irũngũ Houghton.
According to the director, the international community undermines Kenya’s capacity to provide safety and sanctuary for refugees by inadequate humanitarian funding.
Therefore, he called on wealthier nations led by the new US administration to share responsibility fairly by expanding adequate opportunities for third-country resettlement, mass Covid-19 vaccination programs and encourage calls by communities to host refugees.
He also challenged Kenya and UNHCR to consider reviewing the encampment approach with regional and international best practices.
The Kenyan government, on March 23, issued a 14-day ultimatum to announce a plan for the closure of the camps.
Kenya’s Interior Minister, Dr Fred Matiang’i, cited security threats and strain on the country’s resources.
The two-week ultimatum expires on Thursday, and all eyes are on the Kenyan Government and the UNHCR to see what will transpire.