Charity urges Kenya not to close Dadaab refugee camp

Kenya adamant on November closure of huge, 25-year-old facility which houses over 350,000 Somali refugees

Charity urges Kenya not to close Dadaab refugee camp

World Bulletin / News Desk

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Thursday called on Kenya not to close the huge Dadaab refugee camp, first opened 25 years ago.

Dadaab -- the world’s largest refugee camp -- was built to provide shelter to thousands of Somali people fleeing civil war, hunger and drought in their own country.

Over 350,000 people are still at the facility as many areas of Somalia face high levels of instability, with little or no access to medical care.

However, Kenya revealed plans to shut the camp in November.

In a report released in Nairobi on Thursday, MSF strongly opposed the planned closure of the camp and claimed the conditions for a safe return to Somalia have not yet been met.

MSF General Director Bruno Jochum said: “It is clear that refugee camps are not the best way to manage a protracted 25-year crisis but closing them now without offering other durable solutions pushes them back to a conflict zone, where medical care is dangerously absent.” 

Despite numerous reports released by human rights organizations calling on the Kenyan government to call off the closure, the Ministry of Interior Security has remained firm on its stance. It has said the camp poses a security threat to the Kenyan people.

When contacted by Anadolu Agency on Thursday, a ministry spokesperson was unavailable for comment.

During a state visit by South African President Jacob Zuma two days ago, Kenyan leader Uhuru Kenyatta also confirmed his government would not back down on the camp.

However, Head of Mission for MSF in Kenya Liesbeth Aelbrecht said 86 percent of Somali refugees surveyed did not want to go back for fear of sexual violence or being recruited into armed groups.

“What is clear is that returning to Somalia now will have disastrous consequences on people’s health; the fears that the refugees tell us about are real,” said Aelbrecht.

“It is crucial that any return is voluntary, and refugees must have all necessary information about the services and conditions which will meet them in Somalia.”

Since 2013 over 30,000 Somali refugees have returned back to their country from Dadaab. According to MSF, 24,000 of that number left the camp in 2016 after learning of the imminent closure of the facility.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Ekim 2016, 16:01