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REPUBLIC OF KENYA: Refugees pressured to leave Dadaab return to insecurity, drought and hunger

27 Dec 2017
[International Secretariat]
Region: REPUBLIC OF KENYA
Topic: Refugees and Migrants

Thousands of Somali refugees who were pressured into leaving the Dadaab camp in Kenya are now facing drought, starvation and renewed displacement in Somalia, Amnesty International said today.

The huge Dadaab complex in eastern Kenya is currently home to nearly 240,000 people. In May 2016 the Kenyan government announced that it would close the camp, citing national security concerns and insufficient support from the international community. This triggered a huge acceleration in returns to Somalia which continued even after the Kenyan High Court ruled the camp closure was illegal in February 2017.

Amnesty International researchers interviewed returnees in Somalia. Many returnees said they had left Dadaab because of dwindling food rations and services, or because of fears that they would be forced back with no assistance.

Somalia has been blighted by conflict for decades, and between January 2016 and October 2017 there were about 4,585 civilian casualties.

In the midst of this insecurity, the humanitarian situation in Somalia continues to deteriorate. The country is currently experiencing a devastating drought and there is a persistent threat of famine. The lack of clean water in Somalia has also triggered a cholera outbreak which killed at least 1,155 people between January and July 2017.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) more than half the population is in need of humanitarian assistance.

Rather than pushing to return refugees into a humanitarian crisis, the Kenyan government should be looking for sustainable solutions.

“But it cannot do this alone. The international community needs to step up its response, which so far has been woeful and contributed to the suffering of refugees and returnees.

A key factor behind the Kenyan government’s push to return Somalis is the failure of the international community to provide adequate support. Funding for the refugee response in Kenya has declined sharply since 2011, far outpacing the reduction in refugee numbers.

In November 2017, the UN refugee agency UNHCR’s appeal for its refugee response in Kenya was only 29% funded. In the same period, the World Food Programme (WFP) also experienced regular and chronic underfunding, forcing it to repeatedly reduce the value of the food rations given to refugees.

Amnesty International is calling on the international community to provide adequate technical and financial assistance to the government of Kenya, to support sustainable and long-term solutions for the integration of refugees in the country. This includes fully funding UNHCR’s appeal for the Kenya response, as well as increasing resettlement places and alternative pathways for Somali refugees.

Amnesty International Press Release
21 December 2017

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