Human Rights Watch criticizes Kenya for forced repatriation of Somali refugees
Human Rights Watch has criticized Kenya for its forced repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees fleeing the violence in their country.
A program by Kenya for the repatriation of Somali refugees doesn’t meet international standards for voluntary return because it is marked by fear and intimidation, the rights group said on Thursday.
“Many refugees … say they have agreed to return home because they fear Kenya will force them out if they stay,” said the HRW report after interviewing around 100 people at the camp.
The repatriation program comes amid Nairobi’s claims that some of the asylum seekers in the Dadaab refugee camp near the Kenya-Somalia border are used by Somalia-based al-Shabab militants to launch terrorist attacks inside Kenya.
Kenya says it wants to shut down the Dadaab refugee camp, the world’s largest refugee site, before the end of this year.
The Dadaab camp in Kenya hosts more than 300,000 Somalis.
Human Rights Watch says the refugees at the camp have been told by Kenyan authorities that they would lose the chance to receive a $400 UN cash grant if they did not leave the camp by the end of the year.
Many Somali refugees have agreed to return home, where they could face serious risk of persecution or threats to their lives and safety, because they fear Kenya will force them out if they stay, it added.
The rights group says many of the camp residents were being convinced to going back to Somalia without being provided adequate information about the risks they could face in the conflict-stricken country.
According to the group, some Somalis who agreed to return to their country after spending years as refugees in the Dadaab camp have fled back to Kenya a second time due to the ongoing violence in Somalia.
Somali has been the scene of deadly clashes between government forces and al-Shabab militants since 2006.
The group has been pushed out of the capital, Mogadishu, and other major cities by government and African Union troops but continues to carry out attacks in Mogadishu.