Dadaab to Somalia: Forced Back Into Danger
The closure of the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab in northern Kenya draws near. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is sending an urgent call to the Kenyan government to consider alternative and long term solutions in resolving this issue rather than sending hundreds of thousands of Somalis back into the peril of the war-ravaged country they fled from.
In a report released by MSF today, ‘Dadaab to Somalia: Pushed Back into Peril’, MSF highlights the severe medical consequences of such a massive return.
MSF suggests that smaller camps be established in Kenya, refugees be resettled in third countries or that they should be integrated into Kenyan communities.
More than eight out of 10 refugees MSF surveyed do not want to return for fear of being forcefully recruited into armed groups, being sexually violated and having no access to healthcare.
“It is unacceptable that – without any other solution being offered – thousands are essentially being pushed back into conflict and acute crisis: the very conditions they fled,” says Liesbeth Aelbrecht, MSF’s head of mission in Kenya. “Kenya should not shoulder this burden alone. Funding from donor countries needs to be directed to providing sustained assistance in the country of refuge, not to support what will essentially be a forced return to a warzone,” adds Aelbrecht.
- Dadaab has been home to 277,000 refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan for 25 years. It faces imminent closure on 30 November. The refugee camp, consisting of five camps, was established in 1991 when conflicts in neighbouring Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia forced thousands to flee Kenya
- The government of Kenya announced the closure <link> on 6 May 2016 citing national security reasons and decreased international funding for refugee assistance.
- This announcement threw into question the tripartite agreement signed between the governments of Kenya, Somalia and UNHCR back in November 2013, which outlined the terms for repatriation of refugees to Somalia, but only on a voluntary basis.
- MSF has spoken on several occasions against different countries and their efforts to wilfully push back refugees and asylum seekers into the peril they fled from, and outsourcing the care of refugees elsewhere.