UN: UNHCR urges Kenyan govt to reconsider refugee camps' closure

New York, US (PANA) - The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Monday
expressed concern over the Government of Kenya's announcement last week that it
intends to end the hosting of refugees because of economic, security and
environmental burdens, and called on the government to reconsider its decision.

In a statement obtained by PANA in New York, UNHCR recalled that on 6 May, Kenya's
Ministry of Interior said that the government had disbanded its Department of Refugee
Affairs and was working on a mechanism for the closure of the country's refugee

It noted that the development could affect as many as 600,000 people living in the camps.

"For almost a quarter of a century Kenya has played a vital role in East Africa and the
Horn of Africa in providing asylum to people forced to flee persecution and war, and
the safety of hundreds of thousands of Somalis, South Sudanese and others has
hinged on Kenya's generosity and its willingness to be a leading beacon in the region
for international protection.

"Tragically, the situations in Somalia and South Sudan that cause people to flee are
still unresolved today," the UN agency stated.

It said it has been, and will continue to be, in touch with the Kenyan government
to "fully understand the implications of its statement."

"We recognize that Kenya has played an extraordinary role over many years as one of the world's frontline major refugee-hosting nations, and that inevitably this has had many
consequences for the country and its population," UNHCR pointed out.

"For these reasons, it has been a prominent advocate for robust international support for Kenya, including support for host communities and a careful listening to their concerns.

"In today's global context of some 60 million people forcibly displaced, it is more
important than ever that international asylum obligations prevail and are properly

"In light of this, and because of the potentially devastating consequences for
hundreds of thousands of people that premature ending of refugee hosting would
have, UNHCR is calling on the government of Kenya to reconsider its decision
and to avoid taking any action that might be at odds with its international
obligations towards people needing sanctuary from danger and persecution."
-0-  PANA  AA/AR  9May2016

09 may 2016 18:08:01

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