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Government determined to close Dadaab Refugee Camp despite court ruling

The government of Kenya will appeal the court ruling that quashed its planned closure of Dadaab Refugee Camp.

On Thursday, High Court Judge Justice John Mativo ruled that Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery and Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho acted beyond their powers in issuing the directive to close down the camp saying that the repatriation was unconstitutional and described it as discriminating.

But in a quick rejoinder, Government spokesperson Eric Kiraithe, said that while the government respects the rule of law, it intends to appeal the ruling by the court saying that the repatriation was not targeting Somalis only that they happen to be the vast majority in the camp.

“The closure of Dadaab camp has always drawn varying interest and opinions, both nationally and internationally but situations that forced this decision over a quarter of the century have remained the same. The proceedings and judgment are in the process of being obtained and the appeal will commence soon afterward,” said Kiraithe.

TERRORIST ATTACKS

He noted that Kenya’s interest in the case and in the closure of Dadaab Refugee Camp remains to protect the lives of Kenyans and it is on that premise that they will be appealing the decision by the High Court.

Mr Kiraithe said that the process of deciding the closure of the camp was started in 2014 and the decision finally made in May 2015 by the government for the key reason that it had lost its humanitarian nature and had become a haven for terrorism and other illegal activities.

“You will be reminded that the key reason for the closure of the camp was that it had become the launch pad for various terrorist attacks by Al-Shabaab. The Garissa University attack, among several other attacks and attempted attacks were planned and launched in the camp,” said Kiraithe.

The government spokesperson added that as a government they have the cardinal responsibility of providing security for all Kenyans and the rights, privileges and immunities stipulated in Kenya’s Constitution, like any other country, cannot possibly be extended to any foreigners.

“It is curious to draw attention to Kenya’s government on international standards which nobody else seem to respect, by asking the country to host 200,000 persons who are freely moving who owe no allegiance to Kenya and its citizens,” said Kiraithe.

SECURITY CONCERNS

He further said that the repatriation process being undertaken by the government in collaboration with the government of the Federal Republic of Somalia and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has proved to be an effective process and already 51,727 refugees have voluntarily left the camp and returned to Somalia.

“We are observing all international standards to the furthest extent possible and we invite all interested parties to join us so that these people are resettled in Somalia and are able to take part in stabilizing and developing their country,” he said.

Mr Kiraithe added that Somalia continues to stabilize politically and already have a new elected president.

“So far, 51727 refugees have voluntarily relocated since the start of the process and no signs of interest in coming back have been shown. Somalia has also moved forward and made efforts to stabilize especially with the election of a new president yesterday,” added Kiraithe.

Last May, Mr Nkaissery announced the government was shutting down the camp by November 2016, citing security, environmental and economic concerns, and accused the international donors of doing little to support refugees.