By Samuel Ouma
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has recommended measures to solve the impasse surrounding refugees at Dadaab and Kakuma camps in Northern Kenya.
“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 UNHCR’s Representative in Kenya Fathiaa Abdalla.
Last month Kenyan government announced its intention to close the two world’s largest refugee camps citing security threats, a directive that has elicited mixed reactions.
The UN refugee agency is now advocating for voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity while putting into account movement restrictions imposed in various regions to avert the spread of the Covid-19.
It has also proposed providing alternative-stay arrangements to refugees from the East African Community (EAC) to enable them to become self-reliant and contribute to the local community.
UNHCR further suggested resettlement to third countries a few refugees who cannot return home and face protection risks.
The agency also called for speedy issuance of national identity cards to more than 11,000 Kenyans who have previously been identified as registered in the refugee database and continued vetting process for others in similar circumstances.
Abdalla added that they would continue with dialogue and collaboration with local authorities and partners.
This comes just a day after the country’s High Court suspended the camps’ closure for 30 days pending hearing and determination of a petition filed by a local politician.