UN fails to convince Kenya not to close Dadaab camp

Saturday May 21 2016

Refugees at Dadaab Refugee camp on December 4, 2013. President Uhuru Kenyatta told a delegation of diplomats from the UN’s most powerful body, in Nairobi, that the camp, the world’s largest by population, would have to be closed to save the country from security hazards. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Refugees at Dadaab Refugee camp on December 4, 2013. President Uhuru Kenyatta told a delegation of diplomats from the UN’s most powerful body, in Nairobi, that the camp, the world’s largest by population, would have to be closed to save the country from security hazards. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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Kenya will proceed to shut down the Dadaab refugee camp as a matter of national security, United Nations Security Council envoys were told Friday.

President Uhuru Kenyatta told a delegation of diplomats from the UN’s most powerful body, in Nairobi, that the camp, the world’s largest by population, would have to be closed to save the country from security hazards.

The diplomats had arrived in the country just a day after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon asked President Kenyatta not to close the camp, and instead offered to discuss how to manage it.

The envoys, led by Egyptian permanent representative to the UN and the council’s president Abedellatif Aboulatta, told President Kenyatta that closing the camp would be counterproductive.

They offered to discuss ways of improving refugee hostage in the country.

Two meetings, one at State House with President Kenyatta and another with senior Interior and Foreign Affairs officials at Harambee House, did not yield results.

Diplomatic sources told the Saturday Nation the government was unyielding, arguing instead that closing the camp would, in fact, push the international community to support Somalia’s stabilisation.

According to sources, Kenya said it saw little international commitment to support Somalia’s rise, which would in effect improve the security of the region.

The President cited lack of investments in military support for work in Somalia as well as reduced funding for African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) as a concern.

The envoys suggested that the AU chips in to fill the gap, but the President told them Amisom is essentially a UN mission which must be supported by the global body.

But of concern to Kenya, sources said on Friday, was that the UN and other donors continued listing Kenya as unsafe yet it carries the burden of hosting refugees.

A statement from State House on Friday, indicated the Dadaab issue had been discussed “at length” but offered no details on the resolutions.

This will be the third time in President Kenyatta’s tenure that a UN High Commission for Refugee boss is coming to Kenya to convince the government against closing Dadaab.