State to appeal ruling stopping closure of Dadaab refugee camp

​​​Kenya: Historic ruling blocks closure of Dadaab refugee camp

A Kenyan court has declared illegal a government order to close the world's largest refugee camp and send more than 200,000 people back to war-torn Somalia. In his ruling Justice Mativo said the decision was unconstitutional.

If this ruling is confirmed, implemented and stops the planned camp closure, it will remove the uncertainty now faced by thousands of refugees, and they will be able to make an informed choice about joining the Voluntary Return Programme or repatriating spontaneously.

The challenge against the government's decision to close both Dadaab and the Department of Refugee Affairs came in a petition filed by two Kenyan human rights organizations.

The government unilaterally made a decision to close the camp in May a year ago, saying it was a terrorist training ground for Shabaab Islamist militants.

Mativo also ordered the government to ensure that the department of refugees was functioning effectively.

Amnesty International praised the court's decision, saying it "reaffirms Kenya's constitutional and international legal obligation" to protect those who seek safety from persecution.

Rights groups have deemed the ruling as historic.

Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya.

The government announced last May that it planned to close Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp. The number is too little compared to 1 million Somalis refugees in Kenya and other East African countries.

The government argued keeping Dadaab up and running was a security issue. But the group's deputy regional director Michelle Kagari also said that Kenya has carried "a disproportionate burden" when it comes to housing refugees.

It repeatedly stated its intention to deport all Somali refugees despite a barrage of objections from rights groups and relief organisations.

By closing the Camp, more than 260, 000 Somali refugees would be forcibly deported.

Meanwhile, the problems of Somali refugees have been lately intensified after United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning entry of refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries including Somalia.

The government originally wanted to shut down Dadaab last November, but delayed the closure after global pressure to give residents more time to find new homes.

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