Deputy President William Ruto has put up a robust defence of Kenya’s decision to close the world’s biggest refugee camp, Daadab.
Speaking at the United Nations in New York, Ruto sharply criticised world leaders for abandoning the more than 600,000 plus refugees and forcing Kenya to shoulder the humanitarian crisis on its own.
He said some of the refugees are a security threat because they engage in terrorism, trade in small arms and contraband goods.
Ruto said they also destroy the environment.
“More recently, the Dadaab Refugee Complex has lost its humanitarian character and has been appropriated by terrorists and their agents, transforming it into a centre of radicalisation, terrorist training, planning and launching of attacks. It is also a hub for illicit movements of small arms and light weapons,” he said. Ruto was speaking on behalf of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Kenya has suffered many attacks carried out by al Shabaab terrorists. The deadliest raid was at Garissa University College on April 2, 2015, when 148 people were killed, most of them students.
Kenya has announced it will close the refugee camp in November. It is home to more than 300,000 Somalis and another 300,000 people from other parts of the world.
The United Nations Refugee Agency said at least 24,000 refugees from Dadaab have sbeen assisted to voluntarily return to Somalia since a tripartite agreement signed in 2014.
Speaking during the commissioning of the Dadaab power station last week, Wella Kouyou, the deputy representative of the UNHCR to Kenya, said in 2016 alone, 18,000 refugees have voluntarily gone back to Somalia.
Ruto told the UN assembly Kenya can no longer continue to sustain the camp on its own and urged the international community to work with the Somali government in restoring peace in the troubled horn of Africa country.
He said there is need to speed up the reconstruction and restoration of critical services to support repatriation and resettlement.
Ruto said despite Kenya informing the international community during the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly of the unsustainability of the camp, and requesting financial support, nothing substantial has happened.
The international community pledged sh 50 Billion four years ago less than 1% of this commitment has been realized.
“As we assemble here today, 86 per cent of the world’s 22 million forced migrants and refugees are hosted in 10 developing countries.
“Nothing can better demonstrate the failure of international burden-sharing than this reality. It is also an indictment on the global framework for responding to human distress.”
He told the meeting to reflect on the situation and redress it to allow the developing nations to meet the obligations of its citizens.
Ruto said despite having several high level meetings to address the refugee crisis, we continue to witness displacement of people.
“Clearly, this reflects a huge gap between our resolve and meaningful action to prevent and manage forced migration,” Ruto stated.
Kenya has spent sh 100 million to support the repatriation in addition to engaging the World Bank, the African Development Bank, Arab Development Bank to create an enabling environment for the Somalia Government to receive its people.