By Leslie Lefkow
Published May 15, 2016
Kenya, home to some 600,000 refugees, is joining the bandwagon of European states failing to uphold their obligations to refugees and asylum seekers.
On May 6, 2016, Kenyan officials stated that Kenya would stop hosting refugees and close refugee camps due to environmental, economic, and security concerns.
Blaming refugees for everything from economic woes to terrorism is becoming a sinister global trend.
Scapegoating refugees is easier than implementing the reforms Kenya needs to address its corruption, weak governance, and unaccountable security services. It, however, won’t help protect Kenyans from the real threats they face.
Multiple investigations, including parliamentary inquiries, point to pervasive corruption, lack of coordination, and other bungling by security agencies as key contributors to the failure to prevent or adequately respond to terror attack.
Closing refugee camps and sending tens of thousands of desperate and destitute people back to the unstable countries they fled could force many into the hands of terror group recruiters, exacerbating Kenya’s security problems.
Dr Karanja Kibicho, Kenya’s Principal Secretary for the Interior and National Security, says Kenya is closing refugee camps in Daadab and Kakuma for “constitutional and moral responsibility . . . to ensure the security of its citizens from the risk of violent attack.” He says the camps are a “threat to our people’s security.”
Kibicho says “some of the largest terrorist attacks, such as the 2013 Westgate atrocity, have been planned and executed from Dadaab” and that the resulting terrorism that “has killed hundreds of Kenyans, and injured thousands . . .has . . . led to frequent Western country travel warnings that in their broad – and inaccurate – generalisations have ruined the livelihoods of thousands of families.”
Kibicho argues, is “the environmental damage that the camps have caused to the detriment of host communities.”
Saying “There has also been a fall-off in the voluntary international funding for the camps in Kenya, in favour of raising budgets in the northern hemisphere to refugees headed to the West,” Dr Kibicho instructs United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “alongside its fellow humanitarian actors and donors . . . to ensure that the closure and repatriation is done in an expeditious and humane manner.”