“Kenya’s Plan to Shut Down Two Camps in a Perplexing Move to Integrate Refugees with Locals!”
Thursday May 11, 2023
Unsettling news arises from the Somali children at IFO 2 refugee camp in Daadab, Kenya. Kenya is putting into motion a mysterious plan to transform Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps into integrated settlements. This means that refugees will be expected to coexist with host communities and benefit from government services. But what does this really mean? How will they make this work?
Apparently, an intergovernmental steering committee has been launched to align the transition plan with the country’s national security priorities and laws. What does this entail? Asylum seekers are on edge as they try to piece together what this all means for them. Will they be welcomed with open arms or pushed out of the country entirely? The details remain convoluted and vague.
According to Kenya’s Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo, other key priorities of the committee include heightening border security and screening to prevent an influx of more refugees and enforcement of law and order in the settlements. What does this mean for those seeking refuge?
Kenya is currently the fifth largest refugee hosting country in Africa and 13th largest asylum destination country in the world hosting over 800,000 refugees. The majority of them currently reside in Dadaab and Kakuma while others are hosted in various towns and cities, mainly the capital Nairobi. In 2021, the government announced that it would be closing Dadaab and Kakuma, which at the time were hosting over 500,000 refugees mainly from the neighboring Somalia.
The government cited reasons such as gun-running, smuggling, and terrorist activities taking place in the camps. Intelligence reports confirmed that the 2013 Westgate attack, 2015 Garissa University and 2019 dusitD2 Complex attacks were planned and executed from Dadaab. The government claims that closing these camps will tighten security and prevent further terrorist and criminal activity in the country.
Mr Omollo warned that the resettlement plan needs to be carried out carefully to weed out criminals seeking avenues to sneak into the country. What does this mean for those already in the camps?
Turkana County has already elevated Kakuma into a municipality with Garissa Governor Nathif Jama Adam confirming that he will soon sign the municipality charter for Dadaab. But what does this actually mean for those in the camps? Will they be given adequate resources and support to integrate into these communities?
UN agencies, donors, and non-governmental organizations have lauded the plan, claiming that it will be sustainable and able to ease pressure on resources in the host communities. But will it really address the root causes of the issues already present in the camps?