Kenya issues ultimatum to UNHCR to close Dabaab, Kakuma refugee camps

Some expatriates at the camp

The Kenyan government has issued a two-week ultimatum to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide a roadmap for the closure of Dabaab and Kakuma refugee camps.

In a statement issued Wednesday by Fred Matiang’i, the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for the Interior, to the UNHCR local representative, Fathia Abdalla, the government said there’s no room for further negotiations.

Refugee camp

The Dabaab refugee camp is located in the semi-arid town of Garissa county, and is one of the largest and complex camps in the world, according to local media.

The Dabaab camp was set in 1992 and jointly run by the Kenyan Department of Refugee Affairs and the UNHCR.

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As of March 2019, the camp hosted some 210,556 refugees, the United Nations said. Of this figure, 202, 381 are from Somalia, with 56 percent of them being children. There are 55,000 South Sudanese in the camp.

Over the years, the camp has faced overcrowding leading to a spillover of refugees into land well beyond the official boundaries of the camp.

In 2019, the government of Kenya threatened to shut the camp down even as refugees continue to avoid voluntary repatriation programme which began in 2014.

According to the UN, most of the refugees were driven from their home country by civil war.


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