Closure Of World’s Biggest Refugee Camp Blocked By High Court
The High Court in Kenya has blocked the government’s bid to close the largest refugee camp in the world.
A directive to shut the Dadaab camp and forcibly repatriate about 260,000 Somali refugees living there was issued last year.
The deadline for its closure had been extended until May, but a high court judge ruled the decision was tantamount to an act of group persecution.
The government says it will appeal against the ruling on security grounds.
It said that attacks on its soil by the Somalia-based al-Shabab group had been planned in the camp.
“The camp had lost its humanitarian nature and had become a haven for terrorism and other illegal activities,” Kenyan government spokesman Eric Kiraithe said.
“The lives of Kenyans matter. Our interest in this case, and in the closure of Dadaab refugee camp, remains to protect the lives of Kenyans,” he added.
Dadaab was set up in 1991 to house families fleeing conflict in Somalia, and some people have been living there for more than 20 years.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and lobby group Kituo Cha Sheria challenged the decision in court, saying it was discriminatory and contrary to international law.
“The government’s decision specifically targeting Somali refugees is an act of group persecution, illegal discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional,” Judge John Mativo said.
The orders are excessive, arbitrary and disproportionate, he said.