Matiang'i, UN Officials Strike Deal on Closure of Refugee Camps

  • Interior CS Fred Matiang'i (Left row center) speaks directly to UNHCR Refugee Commissioner Filippo Grandi on Thursday, April 29, 2021.
    Interior CS Fred Matiang'i (Left row center) speaks directly to UNHCR Refugee Commissioner Filippo Grandi on Thursday, April 29, 2021.
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  • Interior CS Fred Matiang'i and the head of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi have struck a deal over the closure of the Dadaab and Kakuma refugees camps.

    In a statement issued on Thursday, April 19, the CS noted that the two agreed that the closure exercise should be finalised by June 2022.

    He further noted that the affected individuals had the option of being repatriated or would get free work permits to continue living in Kenya.

    "Hosted Commissioner Filippo Grandi today to communicate our roadmap for the closure of Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps by June 30, 2022. A team of officials from GoK and the UN Refugee agency will fast track the process set to begin on May 5 2022.

    Aerial view of Ifo 2 Camp, Dadaab
    Aerial view of Ifo 2 Camp, Dadaab.
    UNCR

    "Our brothers from the East Africa Community residing in the camps will have an option of repatriation or free work permits to carve out a living anywhere in the country, thus contributing to our nation's social-economic growth," Matiang'i's statement read in part.

    This comes a day after the United States Department of State revealed that over the past one year, it had provided nearly Ksh10 billion to Kenya for refugee protection.

    "The U.S. has provided nearly Ksh10 billion for refugee protection and humanitarian assistance to help Kenya as it provides regional leadership by hosting refugees and asylum seekers from Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and elsewhere," read the statement.

    The government of Kenya had given the UNHCR a 14-day ultimatum on March 24, to come up with a road map on the definite closure.

    In a letter, the state noted with concern the rising terror threats planned from Dadaab and Kakuma refugees camps. 

    “There is no room for negotiation. We must strike a balance between Kenya’s international obligation and her domestic duties. We do have a domestic responsibility to protect Kenya,” advised the letter at the time.

    Later that day, the UN refugee agency responded to the Kenyan Government to ensure that any decisions on the Daadab and Kakuma camps must be accompanied by sustainable and profound solutions.

    “The decision would have an impact on the protection of refugees in Kenya, including in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue our dialogue with the Kenyan authorities on this issue,” UNHCR noted.

    An aerial photo of Kakuma Refugee Camp.
    An aerial photo of Kakuma Refugee Camp.
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