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Amnesty opposes State decision to confine refugees

Sunday, December 23, 2012

PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA | FILE Somali refugees at the new Ifo-extension at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya in this photo taken on July 31, 2011. Refugees living in urban areas have been ordered to return to camps.  AFP

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LONDON - The government’s plan to confine Somali refugees and asylum seekers to camps is a “discriminatory and unlawful restriction on freedom of movement,” Amnesty International has said.

In a report released last week, the UK-based international human rights group said that although it recognised that the Kenyan government’s action was a reaction to security concerns across the country, including several bomb attacks in Nairobi, the restriction on freedom of movement was “likely to lead to other serious human rights abuses in already overcrowded, insecure refugee camps.”

Following the government directive, all refugees living in urban centres would be moved to camps in northern Kenya such as Dadaab and Kakuma.

The government said no assistance should be given to refugees outside these camps.

It is believed that more than 30,000 Somali refugees live in Nairobi alone.

“Targeting entire groups of people and blaming them in this way is unacceptable. It is not, and never can be, an appropriate response to security concerns,” Amnesty warns.

Medecins Sans Frontieres, which operates health programmes in Dadaab, said it was already struggling to cope with the numbers.

Amnesty now wants the government to rescind its decision.


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