President Kenyatta to meet top UN officials over Kenya plan to shut refugee camps

Friday May 20 2016

Newly arrived Somali refugees sit outside a transport centre in Dagahaley Refugee Camp near Dadaab in Kenya on July 22, 2011. President Uhuru Kenyatta will on May 20, 2015 meet members of the United Nations Security Council in Nairobi to discuss the impending repatriation of refugees. PHOTO | AFP

President Uhuru Kenyatta will on Friday meet members of the United Nations Security Council in Nairobi to discuss the impending repatriation of refugees as well as the general situation in Somalia.

The talks with the 15 diplomats are a follow-up to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s call to President Kenyatta asking him not to shut down Dadaab refugee camp.

READ: Don’t send refugees away, UN tells Kenya

It is also expected that the work of the African Union Mission to Somalia (Amisom) will feature prominently on the agenda, specifically focusing on Kenyan concerns regarding the mission.

“Of particular concern to Kenya is the absence of Amisom in the Gedo region, which has now become a safe haven for Al-Shabaab and a launching pad for attacks against Kenyan troops and people along the common border with Somalia,” said a communique signed by the presidential communications unit, PSCU.

Kenya has said the main reason for closing the camp and repatriating the refugees is the security risk posed to the country by Al-Shabaab radicals who have mixed with the refugees.


READ: Kenya drawing up timetable to close refugee camp for Somalis

Terrorists' breeding ground

Announcing the closure earlier this month, Interior Principal Secretary said the camp had become a breeding ground for terrorists and that “some of the largest terrorist attacks, including the 2013 one at Westgate, have been planned and executed from Dadaab.”

Other issues expected to be raised in the discussion are the lack of critical components necessary for stabilising Somalia, such as robust land, air and maritime defence capabilities and assets.

“The recent decision by the European Union to effect a 20 per cent reduction of funding to Amisom is a manifestation of this difficulty. Of equal importance, is the temptation of our international partners to forget that the African Union is in Somalia on behalf of the United Nations.

“Whereas the continent is footing the bill of stabilising Somalia by blood and flesh, it is disheartening that the international community is even contemplating to reduce support to Amisom,” the statement went on to say.

After the meeting, President Kenyatta will fly back to the northeastern region where he has been touring.