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Human Rights Watch faults State plan to relocate refugees to camps
Thursday, May 30, 2013
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Human Rights Watch (HRW) has termed the Urban Refugee Relocation Plan as unlawful citing real risk of further violence and abuses against refugees.
HRW is asking the Government to refrain from relocating refugees to the camps and stop putting pressure on them to return to Somalia as it is still insecure and mired with conflict.
“The authorities have repeatedly made statements indicating that they think all Somalis should now return to their country yet Somalia is not safe for return. Kenya should not force Somalis back to their country but should ensure they continue to receive assistance and protection until they feel safe to return,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at HRW.
Last year, Kenya’s Department of Refugees Affairs (DRA) announced that all refugees and asylum seekers living in Nairobi should move to the country’s closed refugee camps near the Somali and Sudanese borders (Dadaab and Kakuma respectively) or face forced relocation and that all registration of, and services for urban refugees would immediately end.
A report by HRW shows that according to the statement by DRA, the move to relocate them was because of an unbearable and uncontrollable threat to national security caused by grenade attacks on streets, churches, buses and business places that have killed and injured many people.
The report indicates that the transfer announcement fails to show that the plan to force tens of thousands of refugees living in Kenya’s cities into closed camps is necessary to achieve enhanced national security.
It reveals that if carried out, the plan would be an unneccessary and disproportionate response to national security concerns.
Simpson said that tranferring refugees from cities to squalid, overcrowded and closed refugee camps facing a funding shortfall would violate a range of their rights.
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