Tag Archives: Kenya

Kenya’s threat to close Dadaab camp plays on international refugee fears by Neil James Wilson

Kenya’s threat to close Dadaab camp plays on international refugee fears
by Neil James Wilson

Copyright: The Conversation.

The Kenyan government says that it plans to close Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp. It had also threatened to close the country’s other major refugee camp, Kakuma, but has subsequently said it won’t. Speaking at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Deputy President William Ruto declared that Dadaab will be closed by the end of the year.

This move has gained much-needed attention. Kenya continues to host one of the largest refugee populations at a time when international attention has overwhelmingly turned to Europe and the movement of people out of Syria. Despite hosting more than half a million people, the camps’ remote locations and longevity have made them easy to ignore.

In addition to the planned camp closure, Kenya’s Department of Refugee Affairs has been shut down. Though the government has threatened to restrict refugees to camps or close the camps altogether several times before, this suggests a worrying escalation. Established in 2006 alongside the country’s Refugee Act, the department worked with the United Nations Refugee Agency to register and assist refugees in Kenya. Who will fill the gap left by this closure is unclear.

While not in this case, previous threats have often followed bloody terror attacks such as at the ones at the Westgate Mall in 2013 or Garissa University College in 2015. These have led to refugees being equated with terrorism, and Dadaab being labelled a “nursery for al-Shabaab”.

The reality is that the camp highlights the violence that has led many to flee Somalia for the relative safety of Kenya.

The perceived danger posed by the movement of refugees serves as a useful tool in populist politics. It can serve as a bargaining chip in negotiating further aid or galvanise fearful citizens. As Donald Trump’s fear mongering over Syrian refugees and anti-migrant rhetoric in South Africa have shown, this is not unique to Kenya.

Grave consequences

If enacted, the government’s plans would have grave consequences for the hundreds of thousands of refugees living in Kenya. Global resettlement of refugees is already low and unlikely to meet the needs of those being told to now leave Kenya.

The closure would result in refugees returning to unsafe countries, moving to other countries in the region that already have their own extensive refugee populations, shifting from Dadaab to the already overpopulated Kakuma or making dangerous journeys to try to reach safety further afield. The move is also in breach of national, regional and international law.

The recent start of campaigning for the 2017 Kenyan elections and the announcement concerning refugees is not coincidental. Like the plans to build a border wall with Somalia, the scapegoating of refugees plays out well with parts of the electorate.

The timing of this move, and the reasons behind it, hold important lessons for understanding refugee situations around the world. In particular:

  • that longstanding humanitarian situations should not be ignored;
  • that there are very deep inequalities between different refugee populations; and
  • that, in a world increasingly fearful of the presence of refugees, there is mileage in host countries drawing attention to the burden they carry.

Read full article on The Conversation at: Kenya’s threat to close Dadaab camp plays on international refugee fears.


News: The Guardian – World’s largest refugee camp scapegoated in wake of Garissa attack

The Kenyan government has called Dadaab ‘a nursery for al-Shabaab’ and is demanding its closure. But dismantling the home of 350,000 people will not happen quickly or make the country safer, says Simon Allison

After the terrorist attack on Garissa University in which 147 students were killed Kenya’s government has found a scapegoat. Three hundred and fifty thousand scapegoats, in fact.

On Saturday, the country’s deputy president William Ruto issued an ultimatum to the UN. He told the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to shut down Dadaab refugee camp near the border with Somalia within three months, or else Kenya would shut it down itself.

Officials have claimed that Dadaab is where al-Shabaab plans its acts of terror, such as Garissa and the 2013 Westgate Mall attack, and must be shut down.

For full details, please visit: www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/14/kenya-garissa-dadaab-scapegoat-al-shabaab


New Article: Kenya’s harsh new security laws put hundreds of thousands of refugees at risk

Kenya’s harsh new security laws put hundreds of thousands of refugees at risk

By Neil James Wilson, Visiting Lecturer, Department of International Politics at City University London

Image Copyright: The Conversation website at: https://theconversation.com/

Kenya has passed a controversial amendment to the country’s existing security laws, days after heated debates led to brawling on the floor of the Kenyan Parliament. Despite the fracas, the bill was passed with only minor changes, to the dismay of observers at home and abroad.

Domestic and international attention has mainly focused on the impact the bill would have on the period of detention without charge, the tapping of communications without court consent, the erosion of media freedom and the limitations placed upon the right to protest. But the world has paid less attention to the severe implications the new amendments have for refugees in Africa’s second-largest refugee-hosting country.

For Kenya’s half a million refugees, many of whom have escaped diabolical threats across the Somali border, this is very bad news indeed.

Round them up

The Security Laws (Amendment) Act 2014 changes Kenya’s 2006 Refugee Act in two vital ways: it seeks to limit the number of refugees and asylum seekers in the country to 150,000, and it further enforces an encampment policy, limiting refugees to the country’s two sprawling, remote camps in Dadaab and Kakuma.

The United Nations’ Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that over the next year the current number of 500,000 refugees in Kenya is will rise. With continuing conflict in Somalia and South Sudan, placing strict limits on the number of people who can access state protection will endanger lives.

A strict encampment policy also bucks a recent trend of moving away from refugee camps as a means of addressing refugee situations. In July 2014 UNHCR released a new policy that embraced alternatives to camps, with the aim of helping refugees “exercise rights and freedoms, make meaningful choices regarding their lives and have the possibility to live greater dignity, independence and normality as members of communities.”

Read the full article on The Conversation website at:  https://theconversation.com/kenyas-harsh-new-security-laws-put-hundreds-of-thousands-of-refugees-at-risk-35789


New Regional Publications on Africa, esp. Kenya; Middle East, esp. Syria; and Europe

Details of these new publications were originally circulated by Elisa Mason on the incredibly useful: Forced Migration Current Awareness Blog.  Further details can be found on the website at:  http://fm-cab.blogspot.co.uk/

New Publications on Africa, esp. Kenya

Behind the Scenes: Lessons Learnt from Developing a National Policy Framework on Internal Displacement in Kenya (Refugee Consortium of Kenya & Danish Refugee Council, Feb. 2013) [text]

Congo’s Elderly Act as Caregivers – But Who Will Care for Them? (Refugees International Blog, Feb. 2013) [text]

The Fine Line between Deportation and Refoulement: The Case of Zimbabweans in South Africa (Uppsala University, Autumn 2012) [text]

Invisible Suffering: The DRC’s Unofficial IDP Camps (Think Africa Press, Feb. 2012) [text]

Kenya: Government Directive Leads to Severe Abuses and Forced Returns (Refugees International, Feb. 2013) [text]

Kenya’s Somalis Face Urban Ejection (Think Africa Press, Feb. 2013) [text]

Kenyans Head to the Polls – and a New Displacement Crisis? (UpFront Blog, Feb. 2012) [text]

“Organization of African Unity and African Union Engagement with Refugee Protection: 1963–2011,” African Journal of International and Comparative Law, vol. 21, no. 1 (Feb. 2013) [extract]

Protection of the Right to Seek and Obtain Asylum under the African Human Rights System (Martinus Nijhoff, Feb. 2013) [info]

New Publications on Middle East, esp. Syria

Analysis of Host Community-Refugee Tensions in Mafraq, Jordan (Mercy Corps, Oct. 2012) [text via InterAction]

Camp New Iraq (Formerly Camp Ashraf) Residents and the Processing of their Cases for Solutions, Update no. 5 (UNHCR, Feb. 2013) [text]

Can Israel Aid Syrian Refugees? (Huffington Post, Feb. 2013) [text]

Israel Deports Refugees to Sudan Despite Threat to their Lives (Daily Beast, Feb. 2013) [text]
– See also related AP story.

Journal of Palestinian Refugee Studies, vol. 2. no. 2 (Autumn 2012) [full-text]
– Mix of articles, with several on Palestinian refugees in Syria.  Individual articles can be accessed here.

*The Syrian Crisis and its Repercussions: Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees, MPC Research Report 2013/03 (Migration Policy Centre, 2013) [text]

UNHCR Leader Warns of Moment of Truth for Syria, Risk of Unmanageable Crisis (UNHCR, Feb. 2013) [text]
– Note: A link to the text of the HC’s remarks to the UN Security Council was originally included, but now seems to have been removed.

UNHCR Warns of Humanitarian Cost of Syrian Conflict, especially on the Displaced (UNHCR, Feb. 2013) [text]
– Includes link to text of AHC’s speech to the UN Human Rights Council.

New Publication on North America

“Aid Groups Warn of Human Cost of Sequester,” Foreign Policy, 21 Feb. 2013 [extract via Refugees International]

New Refugee Determination System in Canada (Oppenheimer Chair, Feb. 2013) [text]

Open Letter from 40 Organizations Supporting U.S. Humanitarian Assistance Accounts (InterAction, Feb. 2013) [text]
– See also related press release.

Senate Immigration Hearing Should Include Fixes for Flawed Asylum System (Human Rights First, Feb. 2013) [text]

New Publications on Europe

“1952 – 2012: Le Juge Français de l’Asile, de la Commission de Recours des Réfugiés à la Cour Nationale du Droit d’Asile,” Colloque à l’Occasion des 60 ans de la CNDA, Paris, 29 Octobre 2012
– Conference materials include a speech by the Vice President of the Conseil d’État; a speech by the President of the Conseil National des Barreaux; and a keynote address by UNHCR’s Director of International Protection at a roundtable on social group.

Europe: The Dublin Regulation 10 Years on, Inhospitality Means Denial of Protection (Jesuit Refugee Service, Feb. 2013) [text]

Facing 2020: Developing a New European Agenda for Immigration and Asylum Policy (Migration Policy Institute Europe, Feb. 2013) [text]

“Ideas of ‘Home’ and ‘Return Home’ in Voluntary Return Messaging – A Contemplation on the Impact of Passage of Time and Sense of Failure on Asylum-seekers’ Engagements with Voluntary Return in Ireland,” Migration Policy Practice, vol. III, no. 1 (Feb./March 2013) [text]
– Scroll to p. 15.

Submission to Council of Europe Committee of Ministers: M.S.S. v Belgium and Greece, Application No 30696/09 (Amnesty International, Feb. 2013) [text]

When Maternity Doesn’t Matter: Dispersing Pregnant Women Seeking Asylum (Refugee Council, Feb. 2013) [text]



New Report from the MRG: Challenges at the Intersection of Gender and Ethnic Identity in Kenya

Challenges at the intersection of gender and ethnic identity in Kenya

Challenges at the intersection of gender and ethnic identity in Kenya

Minority Rights Group International (MRG) has just published a new report entitled, “Challenges at the Intersection of Gender and Ethnic Identity in Kenya.”

Taken from the MRG website, this report is described as follows;

Minority and indigenous women in Kenya are discriminated against on multiple levels; they are targeted because of their identification with a minority or indigenous group, and as women – both by cultural practices within their own community and because of gender discrimination more

This report examines the challenges and the new opportunities that have emerged with the passing of the new Constitution in 2010. The goal of the report is to reflect the voices and experiences of women from diverse minority and indigenous communities in Kenya.

For hunter-gatherer women, many of whom have been displaced and forced to become squatters, community land rights are a primary concern. They view their lack of opportunities, basic services and education for girls as a direct result of their displacement.

For pastoralist women, insecurity and conflict in areas where they live has a disproportionate impact on them. Cultural practices that are harmful to girls, such as female genital mutilation and early marriage, reduce girls’ access to education and entrench women’s poverty.

For fisher peoples, environmental degradation and collapsing fish stocks are major fears. Women from these communities expressed their frustration at traditional gender roles that place much of the responsibility for meeting the family’s basic needs on women.

While there is strong leadership from individual women in many of the minority and indigenous communities described in this report, the majority of women face ongoing violations of their human rights. Trapped in a cycle of poverty that they attribute directly to decades of marginalization, they fear that they and their children will not be able to take advantage of gains in the new Constitution.

This report highlights actions identified by minority and indigenous women that should be taken by the government and other actors to support women’s empowerment and participation in the decision-making processes that directly affect them.

[Download the Full Report]

For further information, you may also read the MRG press release, entitled: `Marginalization multiplied: Minority and Indigenous women in Kenya facing discrimination on many fronts – new MRG Report.’


New Reports from Human Rights Watch


"I had to run away"

“I had to run away”

“I Had To Run Away”: The Imprisonment of Women and Girls for “Moral Crimes” in Afghanistan.
By Human Rights Watch.

Further Information on the Report:

This 120-page report is based on 58 interviews conducted in three prisons and three juvenile detention facilities with women and girls accused of “moral crimes.” Almost all girls in juvenile detention in Afghanistan had been arrested for “moral crimes,” while about half of women in Afghan prisons were arrested on these charges. These “crimes” usually involve flight from unlawful forced marriage or domestic violence. Some women and girls have been convicted of zina, sex outside of marriage, after being raped or forced into prostitution.

(Source: Human Rights Watch)


Second Class Citizens

Second Class Citizens

Second Class Citizens: Discrimination against Roma, Jews, and Other National Minorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
By Human Rights Watch.

Further Information on the Report:

This 62-page report highlights discrimination against Roma, Jews, and other national minorities in politics and government. Much of this discrimination stems from Bosnia’s 1995 Constitution, which mandates a system of government based on ethnicity and excludes these groups from high political office. The report also shows the wider impact of discrimination on the daily lives of Roma in accessing housing, education, healthcare, and employment.

(Source: Human Rights Watch)


In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood: Summary Executions by Syrian Security Forces and Pro-Government Militias.
By Human Rights Watch.

Further Information on the Report:

This 23-page report documents more than a dozen incidents involving at least 101 victims since late 2011, many of them in March 2012. Human Rights Watch documented the involvement of Syrian forces and pro-government shabeeha militias in summary and extrajudicial executions in the governorates of Idlib and Homs. Government and pro-government forces not only executed opposition fighters they had captured, or who had otherwise stopped fighting and posed no threat, but also civilians who likewise posed no threat to the security forces.

(Source: Human Rights Watch)


“You Will Not Have Peace While You Are Living”

“You Will Not Have Peace While You Are Living”

“You Will Not Have Peace While You Are Living”: The Escalation of Political Violence in Burundi.
By Human Rights Watch.

Further Information on the Report:

This 81-page report documents political killings stemming from the 2010 elections in Burundi. These killings, which peaked toward the middle of 2011, often took the form of tit-for-tat attacks by members of the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-Forces pour la défense de la démocratie, CNDD-FDD) and the opposition National Liberation Forces (Forces nationales de libération, FNL). In the vast majority of cases, justice has been denied to families of the victims.

(Source: Human Rights Watch)


“They Burned My Heart”

“They Burned My Heart”

“They Burned My Heart”: War Crimes in Northern Idlib during Peace Plan Negotiations.
By Human Rights Watch.

Further Information on the Report:

This report documents dozens of extrajudicial executions, killings of civilians, and destruction of civilian property that qualify as war crimes, as well as arbitrary detention and torture. The report is based on a field investigation conducted by Human Rights Watch in the towns of Taftanaz, Saraqeb, Sarmeen, Kelly, and Hazano in Idlib governorate in late April.

(Source: Human Rights Watch)


Criminal Reprisals

Criminal Reprisals

Criminal Reprisals: Kenyan Police and Military Abuses against Ethnic Somalis.
By Human Rights Watch.

Further Information on the Report:

This report provides detailed documentation of human rights abuses by the Kenya Defence Forces and the Kenyan police in apparent response to a series of grenade and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks that targeted both the security forces and civilians in North Eastern province. Rather than conducting investigations to identify and apprehend the perpetrators, both the police and army responded with violent reprisals against Kenyan citizens and Somali refugees.

(Source: Human Rights Watch)