Kenya’s Catholic Bishops have appealed to their government not to close Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps, stressing that closing the camps and repatriating refugees and asylum seekers against their will back to Somalia is against international law.
Given the ongoing war in Somalia, insecurity, and governance challenges, the bishops said refugees should only go back when Somalia’s situation improves.
In a statement released over the weekend, the bishops said that forcibly returning refugees to Somalia, where there is still insecurity, would only lead to more suffering of many vulnerable women and children.
“We, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), applaud the Government of Kenya for hosting and giving refugees and asylum-seekers protection over the years. This has been a good gesture to these people who felt they are a lot safer in Kenya,” said Archbishop Philip Anyolo, who chairs the KCCB.
Last week, local media reported that a Kenyan court had temporarily halted the government’s intentions to close the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps, housing nearly 500,000 people, mostly Somali refugees.
“It is highly unfortunate and regrettable that the intention by the nation’s authorities to close Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps within a short timeframe comes at a time that these people needed help.
This is a time to give protection and embrace the most vulnerable in our society,” said Archbishop Anyolo, adding that “These brothers and sisters of ours living in the camps have become even more vulnerable due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”