In a new article for African Arguments, Cory Rodgers and Mohamed Talil write on the consequences for refugees of Kenya’s 14-day ultimatum issued to UNHCR for a plan for the closure of two refugee camps, Kakuma and Dadaab. These camps have more than 400,000 registered refugees, the majority of whom are Somali.
Rodgers and Talil write, “For refugees in Kenya, the looming prospect of forced repatriation has created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. Media outlets have contributed to the confusion, at times conflating the government’s call for a ‘roadmap’ with a directive for immediate camp closure.”
With the 14-day deadline now passed, the situation is still uncertain. Rodgers and Talil state that while the Kenyan government is not satisfied with UNHCR’s proposal, politicians from Turkana County (home to the Kakuma camp) “have reiterated Kenya’s obligations under international law as well as the reliance of local businesses on the camp economy”, and the Kenyan high court has temporarily blocked the camp closures.
But, as Rodgers and Talil write, “the government’s announcement has already impacted refugees in terms of economic losses, psychological distress, and even physical violence.”