UN asks Kenya to reconsider Dadaab closure

A file picture of Somali refugees walking in the new Ifo-extension at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, the largest refugee camp. Photo: Tony KARUMBA

GENEVA – The UN High Commission for Refugees urged Kenya on Tuesday to reconsider an order to close the teeming Dadaab refugee camp, warning that sending Somali refugees back to their homeland would have "extreme humanitarian and practical consequences".

Kenya announced on Saturday that it had given the UN three months to remove the camp housing hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees, as part of a get-tough response to the killing of 148 people by Somali al-Shabaab gunmen at the Garissa University College.

The UNHCR said it was ready to work with Kenyan authorities to "strengthen law enforcement" at Dadaab to help protect refugees and Kenyans against possible intrusion by armed groups.

"We are thus urging the Kenyan authorities to give the matter further consideration," it said.

Dadaab camp, in the north-east of Kenya near the border with Somalia, is the world's largest refugee camp, housing more than 500,000 refugees.

It is believed that al-Shabaab extremists have been able to infiltrate the country through the refugee camp.

Reuters

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