The Kenyan authorities have announced that they will close Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp. Over 267,000 refugees risk being returned to war-torn Somalia.
With its announcement to close the camp, the Kenyan government has created a climate of fear and anxiety amongst Somali refugees. People feel left with no other option but to return to Somalia, a country still in conflict, where they have little chance of decent living conditions or security.
The chronic lack of support from the international community to Kenya, which has been hosting refugees for decades, has contributed to the government’s decision to close Dadaab refugee camp. The international community has consistently underfunded appeals made by the Kenyan government and the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, and has failed to resettle a significant number of refugees from Kenya to other countries.
Life is now very difficult for refugees in Dadaab, pushing them to leave. Humanitarian supports such as food rations have been reduced. The Kenyan authorities have made clear they expect people to go back to Somalia but have given refugees misleading information about the process for returning to Somalia. By offering no options other than return to Somalia, the government is effectively forcing refugees to leave Kenya.
Now the Kenyan government is looking to close Dadaab refugee camp.
But it is very dangerous to return to Somalia, a country with ongoing armed conflict, instability and limited infrastructure and access to basic services. The risks faced by Somali refugees who return include abduction and forced recruitment of children into armed groups such as Al-Shabaab.
Send a message to Uhuru Kenyatta, the President of Kenya, and ask him to stop forcing refugees back to Somalia.