Somali diaspora are quite concerned that Kenya’s decision to close Dabaab refugee camp and that many innocent people, who are no threat to Kenya’s security, will be unjustifiably and violently forced out from where they now call home.
The Kenya government cited national security reasons for the potential closure of the refugee camp, but it has yet to present a plausible and evidence based case that refugees are a security threat to Kenya.
Scapegoating refugees, who are the real victims of terrorism, is unacceptable and an extremely shameful act by a government that claims to honour its international obligations and human rights of refugees. We believe blaming Somali refugees for terrorism could lead to increasing levels of violence and abuse towards vulnerable members of the refugee community.
Terrorism is an international phenomenon, as both President Kenyatta and Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed made clear in statements on the matter across the world. Stigmatising vulnerable refugees will not create security. In fact, it will create further instability in the region, which Kenya cannot insulate itself from.
Somalia is slowly changing, peace and stability are gradually returning. Somali refugees are being assisted through the Tripartite Process by the UNHCR and other relevant organisations in both Kenya and Somalia, and given the improving stability, the dream of a well-coordinated and meaningful return to Somalia for refugees is already under way. We say yes to a durable and dignified solution but no to a hasty and ill-considered decision that violates the rights and the dignity of Somali citizens.
Tackling terrorism requires regional solidarity to address the real root causes such as: poverty, extremism, poor governance and economic development. Expelling vulnerable refugees is not going to solve it; nor is it practical for security purposes.
Kenya is a nation with a reputation of respect for International Law. Expelling the most vulnerable who are being supported by reputable organisations and international Government’s to finally realise their dream of returning home, albeit slowly, will be a grave breach of basic human rights and International law.
Global Somali Diaspora shares the general sentiment of the Somali people and government that our citizens in refugee camps should be proudly welcomed back and repatriated in their homeland with their dignity, safety and wellbeing protected. They should be seen as an asset, not liability, and with initial planned resettlement support they can and should make a significant contribution to the rebuilding of their nation.
Kenya must refrain from taking the drastic and ill-informed actions of closing the refugee camps, which host nearly half a million Somalis. In times of past difficulty, Kenya has always found the strength to do the right thing. It must not betray itself, its citizens and the refugees by destabilising lives and the security of the region further.
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