Children living in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya hold out their hands for food. (iStock)
Nairobi – The UN Security Council said on Friday that Kenya’s president assured them he will abide by international obligations despite a decision to close the world’s largest refugee camp and send Somali refugees home.
Kenya hosts around 600 000 refugees, some of whom have lived in the country for a quarter of a century, but the interior ministry this month said it would refuse new refugee arrivals and shut the sprawling Dadaab camp citing security fears.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to reconsider the decision and the Kenyan leader met UN diplomats in Nairobi on Friday.
Britain’s UN ambassador Matthew Rycroft said the diplomats told Kenyatta they supported him, “for the situation that they are in and for everything that they are doing for the region”.
But they also stressed the “importance of Kenya fulfilling its international obligations”, Rycroft said at a press conference alongside other diplomats from security council members.
“That is an extremely important message we passed on to the president of Kenya and he was very clear in committing to abide by those international obligations.”
Charities and the UN refugee agency are dismayed by the plan while human rights groups have warned that forcibly repatriating refugees would break international law.
Kenya has said it has set aside $10m to help fund the closing of Dadaab, home to around 350 000 mostly Somali refugees, situated on the Kenya-Somalia border.
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