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UNHCR mulls Kenya's call to close Dadaab camp for Somali refugees

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UNHCR mulls Kenya's call to close Dadaab camp for Somali refugees



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The United Nations’ refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Saturday it had not received a formal request from Kenya to remove a huge refugee camp housing hundreds of thousands of people from Somalia.

Earlier, Deputy President William Ruto said unless the UNHCR in Kenya relocated the remote Dadaab settlement near the Somali border, then the authorities in Nairobi would do so themselves.

In the past the Kenyan authorities have accused Islamist militants of hiding out in the camp.

Covering more than 50 square kilometres, Dadaab is home to people who have fled several east African conflicts including Somalia’s civil war.

It lies only an hour’s drive from Garissa, scene of the recent university massacre in which 148 people were killed by Somali gunmen from al-Shabaab.

Ruto says “the way America changed after 9/11 is the way Kenya will change after Garissa”.

Kenya and Somalia have an agreement to work towards the voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees to areas considered safe.

Kenyans continue to be reminded of the university attack, with vigils and funerals for the victims.

One expert – Macharia Munene, professor of international relations at USIU-Africa – told Reuters the logistics of moving such a large number of refugees would be a “tall order”. But he added that Kenya was in an emergency situation, and each country “had to look after its people first”.


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