Kenya has formally informed the UNHCR- the UN Refugee Agency- of its intention to close the Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps by June 30, 2022.
The Ministry of Interior said in a statement on Thursday that the process of repatriating some refugees to their countries of origin was under way.
According to the statement, the government has also begun the social economic integration of some of them through Work/Residence Permits.
“Kenya has formally communicated to UNHCR its decision to close Dadaab & Kakuma camps by 30 June 2022. Among the precursory activities in GoK’s roadmap is repatriation of refugees to countries of origin and socioeconomic integration of some of them through Work/Residence Permits,” the Interior Ministry said.
The latest development comes just days after the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, stated that Kenya will not close the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps, but will instead seek solutions.
“The government of Kenya is not closing down those camps, the government of Kenya wants to have a solution, they want to see what’s the way forward,” Grandi said “I think the government of Kenya will continue to provide hospitality, but understandably they want to have a strategy for the future and the discussions continue.”
The interior ministry had given the United Nations refugee agency 14 days to come up with a plan to close the camps, stating that “there is no room for further negotiations.”
The Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps in northern Kenya are home to over 410,000 people, mostly from Somalia but also from South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Authorities in Nairobi first announced plans to close the Dadaab camp, which is closer to the Somali border than Kakuma, in 2016, citing national security concerns.
The plan was thwarted by the High Court, which ruled that it was unconstitutional.
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