The High Court in Kenya has blocked the decision by the government to close the Dadaab refugee camp which is home to at least 260 000 refugees, most of them Somalis. Judge John Mativo ruled that the unilateral decision is unconstitutional and would amount to persecution of the refugees.
The Kenyan government had planned to close the camp at the end of November last year, but extended the deadline for six months on humanitarian grounds.
The ruling follows a petition by two Kenyan human rights organizations, which challenged the constitutionality of the Kenyan government’s order to shut down Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, and to disband the country’s Department of Refugee Affairs.
In his ruling, Justice Mativo says the orders were discriminatory and unconstitutional. “…The decision by the government of Kenya to collectively repatriate all refugees in Daadab against their will violates the principle of non- refoulement. The government targeting Somali refugees is an act of group persecution, illegal discrimination….(and is) unconstitutional.”
The Kenyan government wants Dadaab closed closed, saying it is a training ground and a hideout for terrorists. Kenya has come under attack several times since sending her troops to Somalia in October 2011.
Human rights groups welcomed Thursday’s ruling, but urged for alternative solutions for refugees, including integration options.
Meanwhile, Somali refugees living in Nairobi are celebrating the election of Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed also known as Farmajo as the new Somali President. Hundreds of them celebrated along the streets in Eastleigh, a Nairobi neighbourhood popular with Somali refugees.
– By Sarah Kimani