The Kenyan government has set aside 1.0 billion shillings (about 10 million US dollars) to support and fast-track the repatriation of refugees from the huge Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya which will be closed because of security concerns.

Interior Cabinet Secretary (Minister) Joseph Nkaissery said here Wednesday that a task force has been formed to oversee the process of closing Dadaab camp, the largest refugee complex in the world housing some 350,000 displaced people from Somalia.

He said the refugee camps in Kenya had become hosting grounds for terrorists. “The decision to close the camp has been made by the government, reflecting the fact that the camps have become hosting grounds for al-Shabaab as well as centres of smuggling and contraband trade besides being enablers of illicit weapons proliferation,” he added.

“Considering the changing landscape of global terrorism, with new terrorist entities seeking to root themselves in our region, it would be inexcusable for the government to overlook its primary constitutional responsibility to protect her citizens and their property.”

Kenya is presently hosting more than 600,000 refugees with Dadaab hosting more than 350,000 Somalis. The camp is to be completely shut and the refugees repatriated back across the border by the end of the year.

Nkaissery said refugee camps are supposed to be a temporary humanitarian remedy awaiting stabilization of their countries of origin and the government maintains that Dadaab, which lies near the Kenya-Somalia border, has been used by radical Somalia Islamist groups, including al-Shabaab, to launch terror attacks, such as the Westgate Shopping Mall attack in Nairobi in 2013 and on Garissa University College in 2015.

Nkaissery clarified that the Kakuma refugee camp would continue operating because it did not present a security risk. The decision to close Dadaab has received backing from the Parliamentary Committee on Security led by Tiaty MP Asman Kamama.

Members of the commitee say at this moment, the nation and its interests are larger than a community or a group of individuals. However, a section of legislators from northeastern Kenya are opposed to the government’s decision, citing security fears in Somalia.

Source: Nam News Network