Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang‘i has ordered the UNHCR to close the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps within 14 days and said there is no room for further negotiations.
During a meeting with a delegation from the UNHCR representative to Kenya Fadhilaa Addala at his office, Matiangi said alluded to terror threats planned from Dadaab and Kakuma refugees camps and added that Kenya and Somalia have no diplomatic relationship to continue hosting the refugees there.
Kenya is hosting over 274,000 refugees from Somalia and and over 114,432 South Sudanese refugees. The Dadaab and the Kakuma refugee camps in host more than 410,000 people
The UNHCR has called on Kenya to ensure that those who need protection continue to get it, and expressed its commitment to finding an amicable solution while cooperating with the Kenyan government.
“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 stands ready to support the Government of Kenya in continuing and further strengthening the work that is ongoing to find solutions that are orderly, sustainable and respect refugee rights,” said UNCHR.
The development comes as Kenya’s relations with Somalia worsen, after Mogadishu cut diplomatic ties with Kenya last year accusing Nairobi of interfering in its internal affairs. Kenya and Somalia are also facing off at the International Court of Justice over a maritime boundary dispute which Kenya has boycotted citing unfair treatment by the ICJ.