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Somali President asks Kenya to accommodate refugees, if the World’s Largest Refugee Camp ‘Dadaab’ shuts down

The Kenyan Government has already dissolved the Department of Refugee Affairs

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Dadaab
A recent family arrived in Dadaab. Image source: Wikipedia
  • Dadaab is the world’s largest refugee camp with over 3,00,000 inhabitants
  • Kenya plans to shut down this camp citing economic and security concerns
  • This move is widely criticized by human rights groups

Dadaab is a town situated in eastern Kenya which serves as a group of refugee camps which collectively form the largest in the world. Among the many camps that this town harbors,  Dagahaley, Hagadera and Ifo are the oldest (built in 1992) and most prominent. As a second wave of refugees arrived owing to large droughts in East Africa, camps of Ifo II and Kambioos were constructed which held a capacity of around 130,000 refugees. In total, Dadaab houses 300,000 refugees, most of whom had fled Somalia in the past due to unstable political conditions and constant civil wars.

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After the mass massacre in Garissa University in April 2015, the deputy president of Kenya had announced the closure of Dadaab refugee camps. In a country that was gripped with fears of a plummeting economy and dwindling natural resources, this attack by the militant group Al-Shabab which took lives of 148 university students shook the whole country with grief and sorrow.

Government officials suspected that this terrorist activity originated in those Somali refugee camps, and hence must be shut down to diminish the Kenyans’ security concerns. The Kenyan government, which had announced it would ensure this camp shut down within three months,  softened its stance on this matter later, as the camp remains functional to this day.

Although seemingly justified, this move was widely criticized by human rights groups. Human Rights Watch, in its statement, said there was “no credible evidence” that terrorist groups had evolved from refugee settlements.

Dadaab
Refugee Shelters in Dadaab. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s regional director in East Africa, told The Independent, “This reckless decision by the Kenyan government is an abdication of its duty to protect the vulnerable and will put thousands of lives at risk.

“It could lead to the involuntary return of thousands of refugees to Somalia and other countries of origin, where their lives may still be in danger. This would be in violation of Kenya’s obligations under international law.”

Despite all of these criticisms, Kenya reiterated in April this year that it had serious plans to shut down Dabaab, as problems for the country had only worsened since last year. Somalia’s president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, became the first Somali president to visit the refugee town this week. Somalia will be one of the most affected countries if Dabaab indeed settles down in the near future.

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Hassan Sheikh Mohamud

In his speech, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud ensured the refugees he would make arrangements for basic services such as food and shelter upon their return home to Somalia. It is however, unclear who would fund these arrangements.

Kenyan Interior Secretary Joseph Nkaissery confirmed his government’s intention to shut down the 25-year-old complex, disregarding serious requests from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, to maintain its existence.

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“Kenya is committed to close the camp,” Nkaissery said.  “It is a decision we have already reached and we will jointly collaborate with the Somali government and the UNHCR on your safe return”, addressing the refugees. Supporting its decision, Kenya has already dissolved the Department of Refugee Affairs.

Kenya, however would not impose involuntary exit of refugees from its borders. Even as it plans to shut down Dadaab, Kenya is committed to the principles that its constitution is based on. Hence, government officials have said that in close cooperation with UN agencies and the Somali government, they would facilitate a safe and voluntary return of refugees to their home countries.

-by Saurabh Bodas (with inputs from VOA), an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @saurabhbodas96

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Bharti Airtel’s Africa Posts Net Profit of $83 mn on Net and Payment Biz Growth

Airtel Money posted a revenue of $70 million in Q4 as compared to $38 million in the previous quarter

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There will be zero subscription charge for Airtel users with unlimited streaming and downloads, the company said. Wikimedia

Bharti Airtel’s Africa subsidiary has posted a net profit of $83 million (around Rs 581 crore at Rs 70 a dollar exchange) for the March-end quarter, compared with a net loss of $49 million a year ago, boosted by a surge in data consumption and a rise in the volume of transaction value on the Airtel Money platform.

But the net income has fallen substantially and sequentially from $123 million in the December quarter.

The Sunil Mittal company said this was due to an exceptional loss of $7 million, “mainly on account network modernisation across various OPCOs (operating companies),” the quarterly earnings report of the company said.

The total revenue for Airtel Africa rose 6 per cent on-year to $781 million, though it fell from $783 million sequentially.

The net income and revenue both have fallen sequentially. Airtel Africa is in the process of a public listing on the London Stock Exchange around June this year in order to raise $1.5-$1.6 billion.

The net debt of the Africa operations has fallen to $4,004 million from $7,755 million a year ago period and marginally from $4,189 million in the December quarter.

“Data usage per customer during the quarter was at 1,375 MBs as compared to 963 MBs in the corresponding quarter last year, an increase of 42.7 per cent,” the company said, adding that data customers increased by 5.1 million on year to 30 million, representing 30.4 per cent of the total customer base, as compared to 27.9 per cent in the year-ago quarter.

Bharti Airtel’s office.

The total minutes on the network during the just-ended quarter grew 18.3 per cent to 52.9 billion.

The company said that its Airtel Money customer base increased 24 per cent annually to 14.2 million and the total transaction value on Airtel Money platform increased by 22 per cent to $6.9 billion.

Airtel Money posted a revenue of $70 million in Q4 as compared to $38 million in the previous quarter.

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Airtel Africa serves 99 million customers in 14 countries. Its Ebidta rose 16 per cent on-year (earnings before interest tax, depreciation & amortisation) at $354 million. On-year Ebitda margin also expanded from 42 per cent in the fiscal third quarter to 43.8 per cent in the fiscal fourth quarter.

But average revenue per user (ARPU) – a key performance metric – dropped 3.1 per cent on-year and 3.4 per cent sequentially – to $2.7. Voice ARPU also fell 3.5 per cent on quarter and 7.2 per cent on year, but data ARPU rose 2.8 per cent and 6.8 per cent sequentially and on-year wise.

Airtel’s Africa unit has already raised $1.45 billion through pre-IPO placements to the likes of Qatar Investment Authority, Warburg Pincus, Temasek, Singtel and SoftBank Group International, to reduce its net debt. (IANS)