KENYA: Jesuit Refugee Service Asks Government to consider Legal, Moral Obligations before Closing Refugee Camps

By Njoki Githinji

NAIROBI, APRIL 16, 2021(CISA) – The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Kenya has urged the government to apply utmost forethought and consider legal obligations stipulated by international law and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention before following through with the plan of closing Kakuma and Daadab refugee camps.

JRS also asked that government to consider practical limitations and to remember the moral obligation to care for the most vulnerable in society and to pursue the common good.

“JRS reaffirms the appeal from the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops and recommends that the Government of Kenya exert maximum forethought and caution in this particular time of uncertainty, wisely considering the legal obligations imposed by international law and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention,” JRS said April 13.

“This includes the principle of non-refoulement, the practical limitations of closing large-scale refugee camps hosting more than 410,000 people and the moral obligation to take care of the most vulnerable in society and to pursue the common good,” JRS added.

While appreciating the Government of Kenya for its efforts and commitment to generously welcome and protect refugees and displaced people over the years and assuring a safe space to thousands of families seeking asylum, JRS also recognised that the situation in Kenya for forcibly displaced people from Somalia, South Sudan, the Great Lakes and more recently from the Tigray Region in Ethiopia is becoming worse, due to protracted and emerging conflicts and the Covid-19 pandemic.

JRS reaffirmed the commitment to continue supporting the Government of Kenya and all its stakeholders by providing basic services and support to refugees and host communities in Nairobi and in Kakuma refugee camp.

On March 24, Cabinet Secretary for Interior Fred Matiang’i announced the government’s intention to shut the Dadaab and Kakuma camps, giving the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) two weeks to present a plan to do so.