Saturday August 14, 2021
By John Wanjohi
Nearly 20,000 Kenyans who were registered as refugees have sued the government seeking to be removed from the database and issued national identity cards.
The 14,762 people from Garissa County and 4,952 from Wajir were listed as refugees as children or were put in the database in order to access medicine, food, and other benefits available to the refugees, during drought seasons.
Through a petition filed at the high court, the Kenyans, who live near refugee camps in northern Kenya, want the government compelled to delist them from the refugee database and given IDs.
“The victims of double registration have been denied so many political rights and economic entitlements are inaccessible to them for lack of their national IDs,” the petition stated.
They argue that their parents registered them as refugees when drought and hunger hit the counties, unaware of the future repercussions.
As a result, the petitioners say they have missed out on jobs, opening a bank account, accessing business premises, health services, and education after high school because of a lack of IDs.
“The respondents have failed and continue to fail to fulfill their obligation in ensuring that all Kenyans specifically from the marginalized communities in Garissa and Wajir counties have access to and enjoy socio-economic rights and this forced the parents from such areas to go to the surrounding refugee camps and have their children registered as refugees to have access to such rights,” the petition stated.
Led by Hamdi Mohamed Muhumed, Sahal Abdi Amin, and Haki Na Sheria Initiative, they have sued the government, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), and Commissioner for Refugee Affairs.
The petitioners note that the government has initiated plans to close the Dadaab refugee camp which puts them at risk of being repatriated to Somalia yet they are bona fide Kenyans. They also accuse the government of failing to issue them with IDs despite undergoing vetting and clearance.
“Pending the hearing and determination of the Petition the Honorable Court be pleased to issue a conservatory order restraining the Respondents or anyone else from repatriating the 2nd, 3rd & 4th Respondents herein who are bona fide Kenyans and victims of double registration,” reads court papers.