Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Kenyan Ministers push for return of Somali refugees

Somali refugees wait to be screened by UNHCR officials at Dadaab camp. Locals complain that the refugees are benefiting from aid at their expense and are destroying the environment. Photo/FILE
Somali Refugees in Dadaab Camp

Thousands of Somali refugees at Dadaab Camp in northern Kenya should be resettled in their country, two Cabinet ministers have said.

Internal Security Minister George Saitoti and his Foreign Affairs counterpart, Mr Moses Wetang’ula, on monday told Parliament’s Defence and Foreign Relations Committee that the refugees posed “security, economic and political” threats to the area.
At a meeting in Nairobi’s County Hall, the two ministers, who sit in the National Security Council, said the 630,000 refugees would be relocated to “liberated areas” of Somalia.

The ministers revealed that they had been in touch with the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, and other humanitarian agencies, to help relocate the refugees.

That there were 630,000 refugees in an area occupied by 150,000 locals worries the authorities in Kenya.

“We’re not asking them to relocate the refugees to Europe. We’re saying that Somalia is safe,” Mr Wetang’ula said.

The ministers said the threat of Al-Shabaab was no longer potent within the relocation area, and pushed for the aid agencies and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to step in and relocate the refugees.

Mr Wetang’ula noted a “reasonable degree of ambivalence” among the aid agencies regarding the call for relocation of refugees, but insisted that it was not “uncharted territory” to send refugees back to their homeland as soon as the threat to their lives is eliminated.

“We’re not being cruel. It is not right in the 21st Century to have 630,000 people living in the squalid conditions of a refugee camp. It is unacceptable,” Mr Wetang’ula said.

The minister said that as soon as boreholes are drilled; health facilities built or renovated, and the socio-economic activity is revived in the liberated areas, the Somalis will have no reason to stay in Kenya.

Chief of Defence Forces Julius Karangi and Defence Minister Yusuf Hajj also attended the meeting.
Daily Nation

No comments:

Post a Comment