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UN Criticises Kenya’s Plan to Close Refugee Camps

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Tuesday, May 10th, 2016
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The United Nations has condemned Kenya’s decision to close down Kakuma and Daadab refugee camps.

The government was asked to reconsider its decision and avoid taking any action that might be at odds with its international obligations.

In a statement from Geneva on Monday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the move could affect as many as 600,000 lives, and that as a result it viewed the new developments “with profound concerns”.

“For almost a quarter of a century Kenya has played a vital role in East Africa and the Horn of Africa in providing asylum to people forced to flee persecution and war,” said UNHCR.

The safety of hundreds of thousands of Somalis, South Sudanese and others, it said, had hinged on Kenya’s generosity and its willingness to be a leading beacon in the region for international protection.

“Tragically, the situations in Somalia and South Sudan that cause people to flee are still unresolved,” said agency.

It said it would remain in touch with Nairobi to fully understand the implications of the move, adding that it recognised that Kenya has played “an extraordinary role over many years” as one of the world’s frontline major refugee hosting nations, and that inevitably this has had many consequences for the country and its population.

At the same time, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) opposed the government’s plan.

KNCHR Vice Chairman George Morara said as much as Kenya’s concern of the heavy burden of refugees was understandable, sending them away was against human rights.

“It is not right to send back the families back to where they were fleeing,” he said calling on the international community to help Kenya shoulder the burden of refugees instead of closing down the camps.

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