Kenya will transition Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps into integrated settlements in which refugees are expected to co-exist with host communities and benefit from government services as the state starts the planned closure of the two camps over security concerns.
An intergovernmental steering committee was launched Wednesday to align the transition plan with the country’s national security priorities and laws.
According to Kenya’s Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo, other key priorities of the committee that will be coordinated by Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki include heightening border security and screening to prevent an influx of more refugees and enforcement of law and order in the settlements.
Kenya is currently the fifth largest refugee hosting country in Africa and 13th largest asylum destination country in the world hosting over 800,000 refugees. Most of them live in Dadaab and Kakuma while 91,000 others are hosted in various towns and cities, mainly the capital Nairobi.
In 2021, the government announced that it would close Dadaab and Kakuma, which at the time were hosting over 500,000 refugees mainly from the neighbouring Somalia.
It said the camps had become avenues for gun-running and smuggling of contraband from Somalia as well as breeding grounds for terrorists. This is after intelligence reports confirmed that the 2013 Westgate attack, 2015 Garissa University and 2019 dusitD2 Complex attacks were planned and executed from Dadaab.
Mr Omollo Wednesday cautioned that the resettlement plan needs to be carried out carefully to weed out criminals seeking avenues to sneak into the country.
Turkana County has already elevated Kakuma into a municipality with Garissa Governor Nathif Jama Adam confirming that he will soon sign the municipality charter for Dadaab.
UN agencies, donors and non-governmental organisations have lauded the plan as sustainable and able to ease pressure on resources in the host communities.