Closure of refugee camps by Kenya could put thousands at risk, MSF warns

The medical charity, Doctors without Borders, MSF has warned the lives of thousands of refugees could be put at risk should Kenya make good its threat to close all refugees camps in the country.

In a statement Friday, MSF head of mission in Kenya Liesbeth Aelbrecht said the decision to close the camps ‘once more highlighted the continued and blatant neglect of millions of refugees around the world’.

The charity has called on the Kenyan government to reconsider its decision and also urged aid agencies working in the camps not to cease providing the much needed humanitarian support.

“MSF is urging the government to reconsider this call, and – alongside the international organisations already present in the camp – to continue to provide humanitarian assistance and ensure acceptable living conditions for the hundreds of thousands of people who desperately need it,” read the statement in part.

Kenya announced Friday it was closing all refugee camps over what it termed as a threat to its national security.

Human Rights Watch has also castigated the move by Kenya to close the camp noting the decision runs counter to principles it has pledged to respect.

“In a single breath, the Kenyan government recognizes that the Somalis it has been hosting for nearly 25 years are still refugees, but then states it’s finished with them,” said Bill Frelick, refugee rights program director at Human Rights Watch.

The rights body further dismissed claims by Kenya the refugee agencies were havens for terrorist cells noting there was no clear correlation between the two.

“Despite the Kenyan government’s frequent statements that Somali refugees in Kenya are responsible for Kenya’s insecurity, officials have not provided credible evidence linking Somali refugees to any terrorist attacks in Kenya,” said HRW.

Kenya is home to over 600,000 refugees most of whom are Somalis and South Sudanese who fled their countries over protracted civil wars.

 

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