Refugees urgently need help as camps close — MSF

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In the report, MSF calls on Kenya and its international partners to live up to the commitments made in the 2018 Global Compact on Refugees by allowing Somali refugees to integrate into the Kenyan society or to be resettled abroad.

The report reveals that the number of refugees returning voluntarily to Somalia has fallen sharply over the past three years. This is as a result of rising violence, displacement and drought within Somalia.

Meanwhile resettlement offers from rich countries have largely dried up, leaving refugees with little choice but to stay on in Kenya, where they have limited rights.

Refugees in Dadaab are currently barred from working, travelling or studying outside the camps.

What refugees want is integration into Kenya, with the second most popular option being resettlement into a third country.

The recent signing into law of Kenya’s Refugee Bill could provide the chance for greater integration of refugees within Kenya, but this is dependent on it being implemented broadly to include all refugees, including Somalis.

 “Kenya now has a simple choice: to let refugees slide further into precariousness, or to champion their rights by offering them the chance to study, work and move freely.

“Donor countries must share responsibility by increasing development assistance to Kenya so that it can ensure refugees have access to public services,” Krause said.

The plan to close the camps has already caused humanitarian assistance to plummet.

The World Food Programme warned in September, that it may be forced to stop distributing food rations altogether by the end of this year if more funding does not arrive.

 “What we fear most is that closing the camps without offering solutions to refugees could result in a humanitarian disaster,” Jeroen Matthys, MSF’s project coordinator in Dagahaley, Dadaab said.

Matthys said it is vital that refugees have uninterrupted access to humanitarian assistance throughout the camp closure process and until they have certainty about their future and can become self-reliant.

“Even as rich countries have flouted refugee rights, Kenya has remained generous in hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees for years.

“As we mark the 70th anniversary of the Refugee Convention this year, Kenya should seize this opportunity to turn the tide and find lasting solutions which have the interests of refugees at heart,” Krause said.

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