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Kenya seeks refugee camp closure
May 22, 2016, 4:04 pm

Somali police patrol an area recently hit by a terrorist attack. Al-Shabaab have continued to target security forces, AU peacekeepers and officials in the capital Mogadishu [Xinhua]

Somali police patrol an area recently hit by a terrorist attack. Al-Shabaab have continued to target security forces, AU peacekeepers and officials in the capital Mogadishu [Xinhua]

The Kenyan government has repeatedly cited terrorism and security concerns as reasons behind its decision to soon shut down the Dabdaab refugee camp along the border with Somalia.

Considered by humanitarian relief organizations to be the biggest camp of its kind, it currently hosts over 350,000 refugees most of whom have fled the carnage and civil war in neighboring Somalia.

Kenyan security officials said that the deadly terrorist attacks on the Westgate Mall and Garissa University were planned in Dadaab camp.

Relief agencies said that closing the camp would be a disaster for the refugees, many of whom have no where to return to, while others would likely face violence and death.

A delegation of UN Security Council delegates led by Egyptian Permanent Representative Abdellatif Aboulatta, who chairs the Council, told Kenyan authorities that closure of the camp is not the best option.

The threat to close the camp comes amid a row between Kenya, Somalia and the United Nations over funding of relief operations and the African Union peacekeeping mission in Mogadishu.

Over the weekend, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta also told the Security Council delegation that there is a funding gap in the Somalia operations and that countries contributing military forces to the mission should not be expected to fill the fiscal vacuum.

Following the meeting with the president, the UN delegation held a press conference in the capital Nairobi and expressed their reservations about Kenyatta’s plans.

“He [Kenyatta] voiced his concerns of course about the challenges that Kenya and the camp is facing, from our part we will be willing to discuss the matter with the Kenyan authorities, I think there’s an opening here,” Aboulatta told reporters.

But Aboulatta stressed that the Security Council did not agree that closing the refugee camp would increase security or stability for Kenya and Somalia.

In the meantime, the Security Council pledged its full support for scheduled elections in Somalia later this summer.

The delegation visited Mogadishu late last week in a bid to break a deadlock between the government, which proposed elections for electoral colleges in August, and the parliament, which has still not endorsed the plan.

The UN says the August elections are the best hope to stabilize the country ahead of expected national elections in 2020.

The delegation said it feared the elections could unravel, further plunging the country into violence at the hands of the Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Shabaab group.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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