REPUBLIC OF KENYA
MINISTRY OF INTERIOR & COORDINATION OF NATIONAL GOVERNMENT
GOVERNMENT STATEMENT AND UPDATE ON THE REPATRIATION OF REFUGEES AND SCHEDULED CLOSURE OF DADAAB REFUGEE CAMP
For reasons of pressing national security that speak to the safety of Kenyans in a context of terrorist and criminal activities, the Government of the Republic of Kenya has commenced the exercise of closing Dadaab Refugee Complex.
The refugees will be repatriated to their countries of origin or to third party countries for resettlement.
This decision was arrived at in November 2013, when Kenya, Somalia and UNHCR signed a Tripartite Agreement setting grounds for repatriation of Somali refugees. There has been very slow progress on the implementation of the agreement.
As part of concluding this arrangement, Kenya is committed to close Dadaab Refugee Complex.
This decision has been made by Government reflecting the fact that the camps have become hosting grounds for Al Shabaab as well as centres of smuggling and contraband tradebesides being enablers of illicit weapons proliferation.
Considering the changing landscape of global terrorism, with new terrorist entities seeking to root themselves in our region, it would be inexcusable for the Government to overlook its primary constitutional responsibility to protect her citizens and their property.
Kenya is presently hosting over 600,000 refugees and has been doing so for a quarter of a Century. 25 years is defined as a whole generation. Refugee camps are not permanent settlements, they are not migration centres, and yet this seems to be what refugee camps in Kenya have been turned into.
Refugee camps are supposed to be a temporary humanitarian remedy awaiting stabilization of their countries of origin.
Many of you may recall we have hosted refugees from many countries such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Burundi, DRC, South Sudan and Somalia.
The hosting of refugees has been costly for Kenya. As a country we have been glad to help our neighbours and all those in need sometimes at the expense of our security.But there comes a time when we must think primarily about the security of our people. Ladies and Gentlemen, that time is now.
The camps are now completely overcrowded. They were built for far less numbers and the International Community has never moved to address this. The environmental impact has been disastrous for host communities.
Today, you have to dig over 400 metres for water when it was less than 50 metres before the growth of the camps.
What is worse is that Kenyans have to pay for water while refugees get it for free, not to mention the enormous economic cost to businesses in Kenya furthered by the use of the camps as smuggling centres for contraband goods.
Refugee camps have become centres of poaching, human trafficking and proliferation of illicit weapons which compromises Kenya’s international security rating.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are aware that several large-scale attacks such as:
• theWestgate Shopping Mallattack
• Garissa University attack
• the Lamu attack…
were planned and deployed from Dadaab Refugee Camp by transnational terrorist groups.
Over the years, our Security Agencies have thwarted and continue to thwart numerous terrorist attempts besides recovering caches of arms and arresting several terrorist suspects from Dadaab Refugee Complex.
For instance those who kidnapped Teacher Judy Mutuain October last year planned and executed their plot at Dadaab Refugee Complex.
As a result of insecurity created by existence of refugee camps, Kenya suffers the brunt of negative consequences suchas travel advisories andpoor humanitarian rating with obvious negative consequences to the country’s economy.
Some of these attacks were aimed at the interests of our international partners yet Kenya continues to bear the brunt of these attacks on their behalf with negligible support from them.
Looking ahead, our national security organs have observed that terrorist groups such as ISIS are looking to make inroads into our region.
Elsewhere, ISIS has taken advantage of refugee inflows and processes to install its destructive cells.So much so that governments across Europe and the Middle East have taken unprecedented efforts to limit refugee inflows into their countries on the grounds of national security.
Kenya cannot look aside and allow this threat to escalate any further.
To kick-start the repatriation process and subsequent closure of Dadaab RefugeeComplex, the Government has availed with immediate effect 10 (ten) million US dollars.
And as part of putting in place the requisite technical infrastructure to oversee the repatriation process, the Government has today gazetted a TaskForce on Repatriation of Refugees whose mandate will be to oversee, manage and expedite the repatriation and closure of Dadaab Refugee Complex.
Let me speak of the Regional and Global context of this issue….
The decision to fast-track repatriation of refugees is anchored in an evolving understanding by virtually all regional and international bodies that Kenya faces a serious security threat.
In the 590th (Five Hundred and Ninetieth) meeting of AU Peace and Security Council in April this year, the AU recognized and acknowledged, and I quote:
“Kenya’s legitimate security concerns that Dadaab Refugee camp had been infiltrated and become hideout for Al Shabaab terrorist group which exploited the camps to plan and carry out attacks against Kenya’s institutions, installations and civilians…”
It is important to note that AU has also confirmed that Somalia is now safe, ready and willing to receive her citizens.
Furthermore, the PSC stated that, and I quote:
“Shouldering the burden of refugees is the responsibility of the international community as a whole and not individual countries alone.”
The UN Security Council in its Resolution 1269 — arrived at, two years before 9/11 — called on States to deny safe haven to those who plan, finance or commit acts of terrorism and to refrain from granting refugee status to terrorists.
A number of similar resolutions have been passed. They all amount to the International Community’s profound understanding of security being the foundation of all other aspects of the public good.
Kenya appreciates the national security interests that are informing how other countries are dealing with the challenge of refugee inflows. We are also seeking to anchor our humanitarian character, which is recognized all over the world, in considerations that put the security of our country first.
We will not be the first to do so; this is the standard practice worldwide. For example in Europe, rich, prosperous and democratic countriesare turning away refugees from Syria, one of the worst war zones since World War Two.
What is unfortunate has been the lack of commitment to the Refugee Repatriation we have been calling for. Refugees are a responsibility of the International Community. The large amounts of monies pledged for their help should be devoted to helping them resettle back home.
They too have a right and obligation to contribute to the political and economic development of their countries. To make the matter more serious, Kenyans in AMISOM have shed blood to liberate vast parts of Somalia from Al Shabaab. That sacrifice cannot be in vain.
Finally, Government shall be putting out a timetable for the execution of the repatriation process once the Taskforce presents its report, which should be ready by, or before 31st May
THANK YOU ALL.
MAJ-GEN (RTD) JOSEPH NKAISSERRY, EGH
11th May 2016