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African countries should help resettle Somali refugees being repatriated from Kenya

By Mudega Oscar
Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Some of the refugees who voluntarily agreed to be repatriated back to their home country in Somalia from a refugee camp in Kenyan queue at the Dadaab airstrip for screening before boarding the plane on Nov. 2, 2015. (Xinhua/Ingati Stephen)

After over two decades of hosting the world’s largest refugee camp, the Kenyan government has finally resolved to begin the repatriation of the more than 350,000 Somali refugees to the volatile and politically unstable Somalia. The Daadab camp was originally meant to host 90,000 refugees but has outstretched its capacity to over five times as more refugees continue to flock the deplorable camp at the Kenyan frontier.

The Kenyan government has maintained that the camp has become a haven for terrorists. Despite the presence of the Kenya Defense Forces and African Union peace keepers in Somalia, peace in the horn of African country has remained elusive resulting in frequent attacks on innocent Kenyans including the recent Mandera attack in which six people died.

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The political and religious leadership in the expansive Northern frontier which is predominantly Muslim has long been accused for not urging the community to share important security information with the local administration and the police on the whereabouts of individuals suspected or seeking to carry out terrorist activities. During the recent Leaders’ summit on refugees in New York, the Kenyan government maintained that no amount of international debate will deter its intentions to close the camp

Despite US government promise for increased funding to international organizations helping refugees worldwide, Kenya has admitted little is being done to shoulder the burden of hosting refugees. Furthermore, the silence of Africa Union to holistically address the issue of Somalia refugees has cast into shadows the sincerity of the international community to aide refugees. It’s no surprise the Ethiopian government recently pulled out its soldiers from Somali leaving only a handful of African nations to protect Somalis willing to be resettled from potential Al-Shabaab attacks.

African nations should realize that Somali refugee crisis is not a regional problem but a global one as it poses a danger not only to Kenya but the entire continent and the world at large as Al-Shabaab fighters occasionally hiding in Daadab camp may in future seek association with international terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda. It is imperative that the African Union revitalize its efforts in ensuring a stable Somali government as well as pledge financial support to the poverty stricken Somalis as Kenya begins the repatriation process.

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