Kenya: Govt to Drop Refugee Encampment, Adopt Resettlement in Policy Shift

Nairobi — Kenya is set to implement a policy shift that will see the country cease encampment of refugees in favour of resettlement and reintegration.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki announced on Wednesday that the plan will be rolled out in the coming weeks, starting with the submission of regulations to operationalize and implement the Refugee Act of 2022.

Speaking during a visit to the Dagahaley and Ifo 2 refugee camps in Garissa’s Dadaab, Kindiki expressed Kenya’s commitment to addressing the welfare of refugees in the country by fully implementing the Refugee Act of 2022.

“Kenya adopted an updated, improved, and enhanced Refugee Act 2022. The Government will neither roll back nor backtrack on implementation of the Refugee Act 2022 and all its obligations as a signatory to international treaties,” he said.

The move will signal a departure from a ‘hostile’ policy under Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration who had at one point proposed the closure of refugee camps in the Country.

Taming masqueraders

Kindiki however announced a more intentional approach in managing refugees to safeguard the country’s security interests.

He said the government will take the lead in managing the refugee database currently administered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“Going forward, it will be the responsibility of the Government of Kenya to manage and administer the database of all refugees in Kenya,” he said.

The Interior Cabinet Secretary issued a stern warning that the government will not tolerate any individuals masquerading as refugees to engage in criminal activities in the country.

“Even as we provide greater protection and compliance with international treaties, we are aware that there are a few people misusing the noble space of refugees’ protection to hurt our national security through terrorism,” Kindiki said.

“[A majority] 99.99 per cent of refugees are good and law abiding, and we will do our best to help them. However, there are few criminal elements who will not be allowed to hurt the interests of bona-fide refugees and the host communities.”

Kenya hosts around 600,000 refugees with the population split almost in half at Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps.

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