Kenya pressures refugees to go back to Somalia: Amnesty

Amnesty International report says Nairobi is coercing thousands of refugees to return to war-ravaged Somalia.

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Kenya is deliberately coercing thousands of Somali refugees to return to war-ravaged areas of Somalia, said an Amnesty International report.

The human rights group’s report, released Tuesday, comes just two weeks before the East African country’s set deadline to close down the largest refugee camp in the world, Dadaab, which currently provides shelter to more than 280,000 Somali refugees fleeing from war back home.

Kenya had made an announcement in May that it will no longer host Somali refugees due to internal security concerns.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s deputy director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes region explained that the returns were not limited to people being bundled on buses and being forcibly sent back home.

“In this scenario, the forced returns have occurred when the statements that are made and the conditions that are there pretty much become more hostile and refugees feel that they have no option but to leave,” she said.

Kagari told Anadolu Agency that refugees were also leaving because the government has announced that the so-called facilitation fee — $400 — for the voluntary return would be discontinued come the end of November.

The report warns that the extremely tight timeframe and the lack of alternative options for Somali refugees have left open the prospect of large-scale forced returns to Somalia — a country still plagued by armed conflict — which will lead to innocent deaths.

Kagari added that the Kenyan government is not only abrogating its obligations internationally but also Kenya’s own constitution. She called on the donor countries to stop facilitating the forced returns to Somalia.

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