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Kenya likely to Miss Self-Imposed Deadline of November 30 to Close Dadaab Refugee Camp

The UNHCR and humanitarian agencies have come under pressure to suspend the repatriation process until the situation in Somalia improves

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FILE - Somali refugees walk through an area housing new arrivals, on the outskirts of Hagadera Camp outside Dadaab, Kenya. VOA

A Kenyan official has said the country may not be able to meet its self-imposed deadline of November 30 to close the huge Dadaab refugee camp. Tens of thousands of Somalis have left the camp in recent months, but they are finding it impossible to scratch out a living back in Somalia.

Monday, Reuters news agency quoted an Kenyan interior ministry official as saying the deadline for closing Dadaab will not be met, because Somalia cannot provide basic services to the returnees.

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The ministry has not issued an official statement, and the spokesman declined to comment when contacted by VOA Tuesday.

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But it has become clear that Somalis returning home are facing dire humanitarian conditions, including a lack of shelter, clean water, health care and food.

According to the United Nations refugee agency, more than 34,000 refugees have gone back to Somalia, with most settling in the port city of Kismayo.

The vice chairman of the refugee and IDP agency in Somalia’s Jubaland region, Mohamed Noor, says there are no essential social services in place to cater for the returnees.

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Noor says the returnees had a good life, good health services, and their children were in school getting an education in Dadaab, but when they got to Kismayo there was nothing for them, so his agency decided to stop receiving people temporarily.

FILE - newly arrived Somali refugees wait outside a UNHCR processing center at the Ifo refugee camp outside Dadaab, eastern Kenya, 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the Somali border. VOA
FILE – newly arrived Somali refugees wait outside a UNHCR processing center at the Ifo refugee camp outside Dadaab, eastern Kenya, 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the Somali border. VOA

Jubaland authorities have refused to accept more returnees from Dadaab for the time being, saying they could not cope with the number of returnees.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa Michelle Kagari says Kenya’s government is coercing refugees to return to Somalia, where they risk being injured or killed in the chronic conflict.

“We have also reviewed the surveys done by the UNHCR, Kenya, and MSF which found a vast of Somalis in Dadaab did not want to return, so on that front we found out that these returns can in no way be seen as voluntary,” Kagari said.

Kismayo’s deputy mayor Abdi Ibrahim Abdi Barre agrees. He says there is nothing to show the returnees have received assistance. He says those repatriated from Dadaab were released to fend for themselves with a stipend that is not enough to live on and are back looking for support.

Some observers fear some of the returnees, mostly children and young men, may be forced to join al-Shabab.

FILE - parts of Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp, are seen from a helicopter in northern Kenya. VOA
FILE – parts of Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, are seen from a helicopter in northern Kenya. VOA

Kagari says some returnees faced threats and persecution for failing to cooperate with militants.

“There were two boys in particular whose father was killed in front of them they were forcefully recruited into al-Shabab they managed to escape after four months and made their way back to Kenya now they are being required to go back again … Anyone who is returned to Somalia will likely face persecution,” she said.

The UNHCR and humanitarian agencies have come under pressure to suspend the repatriation process until the situation in Somalia improves. (VOA)

Next Story

UN to Allocate More Funds for War Crimes Inquiries in Syria and Myanmar

UN Increases 2020 Budget, Adds Funds for War Crimes Inquiries

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Rohingya refugees attend a ceremony organised to remember the second anniversary of a military crackdown that prompted a massive exodus of people from Myanmar to Bangladesh, at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia. VOA

The United Nations General Assembly Friday adopted a $3.07 billion operating budget that for the first time includes funding for the investigation of war crimes in Syria and Myanmar.

The budget represents a slight increase from 2019’s figure of $2.9 billion.

The increase was the result of additional missions assigned to the U.N. Secretariat, inflation and exchange rate adjustments, according to diplomats.

These include the observer mission in Yemen, a political mission established in Haiti, the investigation of crimes committed in Syria since the outbreak of civil war in 2011, and in Myanmar after the 2017 crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Syria, Myanmar inquiries

Myanmar Refugees
Rohingya refugees gather near a fence during a government organized media tour to a no-man’s land between Myanmar and Bangladesh, near Taungpyolatyar village, Maung Daw, northern Rakhine State, Myanmar. VOA

For the first time, the budgets for the Syria and Myanmar investigations, which were previously financed by voluntary contributions, will in 2020 be transferred to the U.N. secretariat’s budget and will receive compulsory contributions from the 193 member states.

Russia proposed multiple amendments during negotiations in the Committee on Budgetary Questions meeting and in the General Assembly plenary session.

Dissenters

At each vote, Russia, Syria, Myanmar and their supporters, including North Korea, Iran, Nicaragua and Venezuela, were outvoted. They all stated that they dissociated themselves from references to investigative mechanisms in the adopted resolutions.

Russia said it would examine its future obligatory payments in light of the vote outcome and predicted an increase in the arrears that currently plague the U.N.’s treasury because of countries not paying enough.

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Moscow argued Friday the investigative mechanism was illegitimate, while Damascus stressed that it had no mandate from the Security Council.

The U.N.’s operating budget is separate from the annual budget for peacekeeping operations of some $6 billion that is adopted in June. (VOA)