100 more refugees relocated to camps

Somali refugees, deported from Kenya, arrive at Mogadishu Airport, on April 9, 2014. More than 100 refugees have been taken to camps as the government insists it will not backtrack in clearing them from urban areas. PHOTO | MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB

What you need to know:

  • They were part of those detained in Kasarani Safaricom Stadium for scrutiny of their identification papers.
  • However, United Nations Hight Commissioner for Refugees Deputy Country Representative Abel Mbilinyi said 23 were taken to Dadaab while the rest went to Kakuma.

More than 100 refugees have been taken to camps as the government insists it will not backtrack in clearing them from urban areas.

Refugee Affairs Commissioner Haron Komen told the Nation that 111 people were taken to Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps on Thursday night.

They were part of those detained in Kasarani Safaricom Stadium for scrutiny of their identification papers.

“This number only accounts for those that the government has transported,” said Mr Komen.

“Many others have been going back on their own so we expect the number of those arriving at the camps to be higher.”

The Refugee Affairs boss said the group comprised refugees from South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia.

Majority – about 80 – were from Somalia, he said.

The official denied claims of harassment, saying the government was keeping suspected illegal immigrants at the stadium for “screening purposes” so that refugees could be taken back to camps.

“We have always allowed the UN personnel to check on the situation and I am sure they can’t complain,” he said.

“This is a policy we are implementing to the latter to ensure our cities and urban areas are safe.”

Mr Komen did not give a breakdown on the number that had gone to Kakuma and Dadaab.

However, United Nations Hight Commissioner for Refugees Deputy Country Representative Abel Mbilinyi said 23 were taken to Dadaab while the rest went to Kakuma.

“We are aware that some refugees were taken last night (Thursday night) from Kasarani. I have no information on whether they arrived in the camps because our colleagues there say they haven’t arrived yet,” he said on phone.

Most populousOf the two camps, Dadaab, located in Garissa County, is the most populous. It is estimated it is hosting about 380,000 refugees, mostly from war-torn Somalia.

Kakuma has about 125,000 people and is located in Turkana County, about 800 kilometres north-west of Nairobi.

Friday, the police at Kasarani were not allowing journalists to enter the stadium. Officers at the gate insisted they were under instruction not to let reporters in as “nothing is going on this time.”

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