• Press Release

Kenya must not force refugees back to Somalia by closing Dadaab camp

March 26, 2019

Responding to news that the Government of Kenya plans to close the Dadaab refugee camp by the end of August, Amnesty International Kenya’s Executive Director Irungu Houghton said:

“The Government of Kenya courts a humanitarian disaster and international criticism if it intends to forcibly return hundreds of thousands of refugees to Somalia without proper consultation, planning and regard for their safety. These men, women and children have fled ongoing armed conflict in fear for their lives and suffered a raft of other human rights abuses.

Any decision to arbitrarily close the camp would also violate the February 2017 Kenyan High Court ruling that the closure of Dadaab in 2016 is un-constitutional and illegal under both national and international law.

“These plans must be shelved. The Kenyan government must seek genuine durable solutions for Somali refugees including integration into the Kenyan society and resettlement to third countries. The international community must support the Kenyan government to do this by availing financial and technical support and offering resettlement places to the most vulnerable refugees.” 

The Government of Kenya has previously announced its intention to close Dadaab refugee camp, allegedly to stem terrorist attacks in the country. In 2016, Amnesty International carried out research in Dadaab, following the Kenyan government’s announcement at that time of its intention to close the camp. The organization found that forcing refugees to return to Somalia is a violation of the principle of non-refoulment.