Garissa leaders differ over plans to repatriate refugees at Dadaab camp
Political leaders in Garissa County on Sunday differed over a government decision to close the sprawling Dadaab camp and send the refugees back to Somalia over insecurity. Speaking during a funds drive in aid of Madrasa Manar in Garissa Town, some supported the government’s position saying the camps have become a training ground for Al-Shabaab militants and should be closed while others said sending them back will have serious security challenges for the country in future.
Garissa Senator Yussuf Haji, while opposing the move to repatriate more than 330,000 refugees living in Dadaab camps, said Somalia was still volatile and insecure and Al-Shabaab will recruit them for their criminal activities. “Refugees have been here for close to 30 years. They know Kiswahili and other local languages. They also know all parts of the country,” said Mr Haji, adding that forcibly repatriating them will make them join ISIS and Al-Shabaab.
JOIN CRIMINAL GANGS
Mr Haji said most of them have illegally acquired the Kenyan identity cards and when sent back to Somalia they could join criminal gangs and then return to the country and cause serious security challenges. “When forcibly returned to Somalia they will be taken to Al-Shabab strongholds, which will mean they will join them and attack us even more,” he said at the function which was also attended by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.
Ijara MP Ahmed Ibrahim Abass (ODM), however, supported the government‘s stand that the camps have been infiltrated by Al-Shabaab. He said the Dadaab refugee camps have become grounds where Al-Shabaab recruits are trained and radicalised.
“We have been hosting these people for the last 25 years. I fully support the repatriation of refugees. There is nowhere it is written that Kenya can only host refugees for this long. It’s no longer a refugee camp, it has become a training ground for Al-Shabaab,” said the Ijara lawmaker.
On his part Dadaab MP Mohamed Dahiye said although it is not logical for refugees to spend their life in the camps, the government should be humane when carrying out repatriation adding that it is not possible to send back (all) refugees within six months. He said apart from the refugees, there are hundreds of Kenyans who have been entered in the refugee data base while looking for opportunities to be relocated or food rations.
This group, he said, cannot secure Kenyan identification documents and urged the government to come up with strategy for giving them identity cards. “Many Kenyans have gone into refugee camps and have been registered in the UNHCR database. If the government will repatriate refugees, these are Kenyans, they don’t have anywhere else to go. They should be given ID cards,” said the Dadaab MP.
Courtersy of Daily Nation