Monday, March 26, 2012
The United Nations says it has the government’s assurance that refugees in the Dadaab complex will not be forced into areas of Somalia secured by the Kenya Defence forces.
Statements by some government officials have in recent past fuelled speculation that the refugees will be resettled in the secure areas in Somalia to act as a security buffer zone for Kenya.
But in its March Bulletin for Eastern Africa, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says its refugee agency has been assured this will not happen.
“Despite widespread media reports and several Government of Kenya statements to the contrary, the UN refugee agency says national authorities have provided assurances that Somali refugees residing in the Dadaab complex will not be forced back to areas of Somalia that the Kenya Defence Forces have reportedly secured,” says the bulletin.
In January, Internal Security permanent secretary Francis Kimemia, who is now acting head of Public Service, had said Kenya planned to move some of the refugees at the Dadaab camp to safe havens in Somalia.
He said the relocation would be done in liaison with the UNHCR and the international community to areas secured by Kenyan troops battling Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia.
Kenya has been under pressure, mainly from the US, to drop the resettlement plans. Following Mr Kimemia’s comments, acting US assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration David Robinson remarked that such a plan was premature and should be put on hold.
Mr Francis Kimemia, permanent secretary in the ministry of Internal Security. Photo/FILE
The latest push was made two weeks ago by Ms Melanie Teff, a US-based human rights activist who called on Kenya to resume registration of Somali refugees fleeing into the country.
Ms Teff, who had visited the Dadaab camp, said Kenya’s decision to halt registration had bred more insecurity in the area.
Kenya had stopped the registration of new refugees in October last year as part of her security efforts to restrict members of Al-Shabaab from joining the camp on the pretext that they are refugees.