We’ve had a lot of you ask what happens to the people when these camps are closed and truthfully, no one knew. But today (May 11, 2016), the Kenyan National Police tweeted a document stating that, “The refugees will be repatriated to their countries of origin or to third party countries for resettlement… Kenya is committed to close Dadaab Refugee Complex.” It goes on to state that the government will be putting out a timetable for the execution of their plan by May 31st.
The document also states that “Somalia is now safe, ready and willing to receive her citizens.” However, we’ve been keeping track: Somalia’s last reported attack by al-Shabaab was on May 1st, in which 22 people were killed. This year alone, there have been 22 reported deadly attacks by gun, bomb, and mortar, among other methods, which have killed an estimated 207 people. These people were in towns and in the country’s capital. These people were partaking in activities such as sitting in their houses, working on a military base, enjoying the seaside, being at the airport, staying in hotels, eating at restaurants and cafes, and riding a minibus. It has even been reported that a cleaning lady, and mother of five, who worked for the UNHCR headquarters, was one of those shot down. Somalia is not safe.
Many believe the refugees will be sent back to their original countries and that a forced mass exodus of people will create “new sources of civil unrest.” The big problem is that these peoples’ home countries haven’t magically become safe just because Kenya doesn’t want to host refugees anymore. Mwenda Njoka, interior ministry spokesman in Kenya says: "The message is clear; we are closing the camps and we will not accept more refugees in the country."
[Graphics by HumanRefuge(e)] Fact Sources: UNHCR, ThinkProgress, Washington Post, USA Today, The Independent, The National Police Service of Kenya