UNHCR appeals Matiang’i’s 14-day ultimatum on Daadab, Kakuma refugee camps closure

Daadab Refugee Camp
Daadab Refugee Camp. [Photo: Amnesty International Kenya]

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has responded to a directive by Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i on the closure of Daadab and Kakuma Camps in North Eastern.

Matiang’i had issued a 14-day ultimatum to the UN refugee agency citing that the two camps must be closed.

The Interior CS said that the government will not negotiate anymore on the closure of the camps. He said that all refugees must be repatriated.

UNHCR in a statement on Wednesday urged the Kenyan government to reconsider its stand on the matter adding that refugees need to be protected which is why they are in Kakuma and Daadab.

“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,” the statement read.

The agency said that it will appreciate if the Kenyan government will consider its terms and lauded it for decades of hosting and protecting refugees.

“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,” UNCHR added.

This will be the second attempt by the Kenyan government to shut down the refugee camps.

Daadab refugee camp has a population of 217,000 while Kakuma has 190,000 refugees respectively.

The UN started the Daadab Camp in 1991 to offer a home to refugees and has grown to become the largest refugee camp in Kenya.