We don’t admit terror agents, says UN

A UN agency in charge of refugees on Sunday absolved itself from blame that it could be allowing into the country members of al-Shabaab guised as refugees.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said the authenticity of refugees entering Dadaab camp is solely the responsibility of the Kenyan government.

Mr Fafa Attidzah, the UNHCR Head of Sub-Office in Dadaad, said the agency only registers refugees recognised by the government.

“Before we admit any refugees, they must first all get recognition from the Department of Refugee Affairs (Kenya).

“I think the question of whether those who come here are genuine or not should be directed to the government,” he said.

Mr Attidzah said that it was the government that first allows refugees in through the border and that “we are always in liaison with the government for this information.”

Mr Attidzah’s comments came as the government approved military pursuit of the Al-Shabaab terror group which last week kidnapped two Spanish medics from the Dadaab Refugee Camp. (READ: Kenyan troops off to war)

Internal Security Minister George Saitoti on Saturday said that Somalia refugees at the camp would be subjected to screening on suspicion that some of them could be Al Shabaab sympathisers.

In July, Kenya yielded to international pressure and allowed in more Somali refugees to the already overcrowded camp. (READ: Kenya told to open up new refugee camp)

It now hosts more than 525,000 people most of whom come from Somalia, making it the most populous refugee centre in the world.

At the height of the drought crisis in the Horn of Africa, the Nation spent over a week traversing the length and width of the Camp located in Garissa County.

It comprises three different smaller camps; Dagahaley, Hagadera and Ifo and covers an area of about 50 square kilometres. The camps were initially supposed to host only 90,000 people.

Most of them were reluctant to go back, in case the war and the drought came to an end. At Ifo, for instance, refugees have schools, a hospital (run by GIZ) and several health posts managed by Doctors without Borders (MSF)

The camp with a capacity to host 90,000 refugees now supports more than 525,000 people, making it the most populous refugee centre in the world.

The facilities offer free medical services to the refugees. Within the camp is a market where they can buy beef, take a beer or two and even lodge for the night.

And despite the camp covering an area of 50 square kilometres and being close to the dangerous Somali border, the camp is manned by just 255 police officers.

This has led to each aid agency to plan its security measures.


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