The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Investment Promotion of the Federal Republic of Somalia (FRS) has expressed its grave reservation regarding the decision by Kenya to disband the Department of Refugee Affairs (DRA) with effect from Friday May 6, 2016 which also set in motion the mechanisms to close down Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps.
Dadaab and Kakuma host 600,000 refugees. Dadaab is currently the biggest refugee camp in the world.
The statement ran thus:
This decision by Kenya to close refugee camps will negatively affect the majority of Somali refugees who are housed in the two camps and will make the threat of terrorism worst, not better, given the volatile situation this sudden decision and the proposed subsequent actions will cause.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to express at the outset the Government of the Federal Republic of Somalia’s gratitude to the people and government of the Republic of Kenya for hosting Somali Refugees for more than two decades and having been equally involved in the mediation and the search for peace in the Somali conflict.
Today, there is an established, agreed and effective mechanism in the form of the Tripartite Agreement that serves as the blue print for positive partnership between Kenya, Somalia and the UNHCR for the safe and dignified resettlement of Somali refugees in their home country. Abandoning this will be a legal and moral failing on the part of Kenya.
Somalia is turning the corner and we are partnering with Kenya to confront global terrorism. However, the collective regional success of this mission depends on intelligence and resource sharing as well as partnership and mutual trust. Expelling vulnerable Somali refugees at a time Somalia is making internationally recognized progress towards stability and institution building, will only increase the risk of insecurity in the region.
Over the years, there have been deliberations to close the the camps because of the burden on the country. A repatriation program was started following the Tripartite Agreement.
The agreement was between Kenya, Somalia and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) which would see the refugees assisted to return to their home countries for the eventual closure of the camps.
Over 100,000 refugees have left the camps since, some through assistance and others on their own accord, over the past couple of years.