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Somali president pays first official visit to Kenya

By Zahra Rashid
Friday, December 21, 2012

Nairobi, Kenya - Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is in Kenya on a two-day official visit.

The President, accompanied by senior officials from his government, was received by his Kenyan counterpart Mwai Kibaki.

Mr. Mohamud’s visit comes two days after the Kenyan government had ordered all refugees and asylum seekers out of urban areas in a move to boost security in the country. Refugees from Somalia are asked to report to the Dadaab camp.

Acting Commissioner for Refugee Affairs Badu Katelo published the public notice in the newspapers, adding that the registration of new refugees has been stopped.

He said “There are fears that the two camps would be overstretched if all the 450,000 Somalis registered by UNHCR to be residing in Kenya moved here.” Kakuma camp is currently holding 80,000 while Dadaab camp which holds 90,000-capacity Dadaab beyond capacity.

On Wednesday the Human rights activists and refugee agencies criticized the drastic move of stopping all direct services that were being offered in the urban areas by relief agencies.

Two days ago, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) promised to continue offering services to the refugees in urban centers despite the government’s directive to stop the registration.

The UNHCR spokesman Mr. Emmanuel Nyabera stated that UNHCR will continue providing services such as registration of refugees in urban areas, provision of healthcare support to dispensaries that serve refugees in urban areas.

Nevertheless, the UNHCR has raised concern that the decision would lead to more overcrowding of the refugee camps in northern Kenya.

Though there has been no official response from the Somalia over the matter, former Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Ali has cautioned Kenya against making a hasty policy.

Sources close to President Mohamud said that the Head of State has been keenly following the security situation in Kenya and sent a message of condolence to the families of those who died in the blast in Nairobi’s Eastleigh estate early this month.

The Somali president was accompanied by his deputy Prime Minister and minister of Foreign Affairs Fowsiya Aden and ministers Abdulkareem Guled, Abdullahi Elmooge and Farah Sheikh.

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