Repatriation of Refugees Illegal, Says Humanitarian Bodies

Repatriation of Refugees Illegal, Says Humanitarian Bodies

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Displaced People At Dadaab Refugee Camp . PHOTO: COURTESY.

Nairobi, KENYA: The recent decision by Government to repatriate refugees on grounds of insecurity has continued to spark debate as various humanitarian organization claim the move to be unconstitutional and inhumane.

The NGO Council has said that the Government should have consulted with Parliament or United Nations organs dealing with refugees UNHCR before reaching that decision.

“The Fourth Geneva Convention provides that persons who have been evacuated must be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area in question have ceased. This is not the case with Somalia refugees, ” says CEO Prof. Jared Onyari.

“This is the only home some refugees know. Kenya is the only country they know. Forcing them to leave is unfortunate since Somalia government is yet to be stable,” he adds.

The Human Rights Watch HRW states that Kenya should not turn its back on people needing protection and on fundamental principles that it has pledged to respect.

“In a single breath, the Kenyan government recognizes that Somalis it has been hosting for nearly 25 years are still refugees, but then states it is finished with them ,” said Bill Frelick , refugee rights program director at HRW.

Kenya is home to 463,000 Somali refugees who fled insecurity and fighting, including by the Islamist armed group Al-Shabaab which is at war with the Somali government.

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR has said that Kenya and other governments should not return anyone to parts of South-Central Somalia where there is fighting , or that remain under control of armed groups of like Al-Shabaab.

“The threat Al-Shabaab poses in Somalia and Kenya is real but that doesn’t negate Kenya’s obligation to abide by international refugee law. Rather than abandon people it still recognizes as refugees, the Kenyan government should appropriately prosecute those people who have committed crimes and maintain efforts to protect refugees according to international standards,” states Frelick.

Dr. Eng. Karanja Kibicho , Interior Ministry Principal Secretary earlier this month announced that the government would no longer host refugees and was disbanding its Department of Refugee Affairs.