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Refugee crisis: Its about the money and the global politics

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The Somali refugee crisis has turned into a high stakes game of money and global politics as the world responds to Kenya’s threat to expel refugees. TEA GRAPHIC  

By ALLAN OLINGO

Posted  Saturday, May 21   2016 at  11:49

In Summary

  • The Somali refugee crisis has turned into a high stakes game of money and global politics as the world responds to Kenya’s threat to expel 600,000 displaced people.
  • Despite denials by Kenyan officials that the threat was about money, it emerged that President Kenyatta did draw parallels between the Somalia refugee crisis and the Syrian one where the European Union entered a deal with Turkey, which has seen the latter receive more than $4.3 billion in aid to keep Syrian refugees. On the other hand, the EU has cut funding for the African Mission is Somalia (Amisom).

In November 2013, Kenya formed a committee with UNHCR and Somalia where an agreement was signed. However, Kenya feels that the tripartite agreements talks collapsed as the two partners (Somalia and UNHCR) are “no longer useful” in this process anymore.

In an interview with The EastAfrican, Interior principal secretary Dr Karanja Kibicho said that the tripartite talks collapsed because Kenya felt it was a money question every time meetings were called.

“We have made it clear to them that these security threats we are talking about cannot be compensated by money. We have failed to have the security discussion with these partners since signing of these agreements three years ago. Their interest is for us to keep the refugees as they keep the aid taps open. The questions they should be asked is what they have done so far to ensure that our concerns over existence of terrorist cells in the camps are routed out,” Dr Kibicho said.

It is understood that Kenya has on several occasions voiced its frustrations with the constant paper work and meetings over the repatriations yet the tripartite agreement, which expires in November had already laid ground for the repatriation.

“We haven’t moved an inch with these tripartite talks. Our eyes are on repatriations rather than hosting meetings, conferences, field visits and feasibility studies as has been the norm in this agreement. We have done enough of these. Can we now move people from the camps?” Mr Kibicho asked.

Interestingly, in a commentary in a UK newspaper, The Independent, Mr Kibicho said that there has also been a fall-off in the voluntary international funding for the camps in Kenya, in favour of raising budgets in the northern hemisphere for refugees headed to the West, in reference to the March European Union deal with Turkey that will see the latter receive more than $4.24 billion in funding to retain the Syrian refugees.

“International obligations in Africa should not be done on the cheap; the world continues to learn the ruinous effect of these persistent double standards,” Mr Kibicho said in the commentary.

Kenya’s Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery last week also dragged the EU-Turkey deal into the foray questioning why Kenya wasn’t allowed to repatriate refugees yet rich, prosperous and democratic countries were turning away refugees from Syria, one of the worst war zones since World War Two.

“This could have been a way of Kenya expressing its displeasure with EU’s position on various issues including advancing $51.76 million in project grants to Mali, a migrant transit country, yet Kenya is receiving little support while it plays hosts to the world’s largest refugee camp while at the same time cutting back Amisom’s funding by 20 per cent because of competing needs,” The EastAfrican was told.

Dr Kibicho however denies that prospects of increased funding was the motivating factor in the decision, instead saying that the insecurity and Al Shabaab terror cells within these camps was the main reason.

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