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Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work

Closing Dadaab

An aerial view of one of the camps at Dadaab. IOM/UNHCR / B.Bannon/ October, 2011Following the devastating al-Shabaab attack on Garissa University on 2 April 2015, the Kenyan government announced the imminent closure of the Dadaab refugee camps and the repatriation of their 340,000 or more Somali residents. This is not the first time the government has threatened to close the camps, but outrage over increasing brutal al-Shabaab attacks have given the issue a new urgency. The government asserted that Dadaab presents a security risk, providing a haven and a source of recruits for al-Shabaab operatives. It also argues that Kenya has borne an inordinate burden in hosting the refugees for twenty-four years, and that conditions in Somalia no longer justify Somali claims of refugee status. On the other hand, refugee rights advocates argue that the Somali government could not cope with a mass repatriation, that conditions in Somalia do not meet legal standards for the safe return of hundreds of thousands of refugees, and that Kenya would violate international law by forcibly repatriating them.

On 29 April, 2015, the Nairobi Forum hosted a panel to discuss the legal and humanitarian implications of a mass repatriation of Somali refugees.




Ibrahim Farah
Somali Academic


Eva Camps

Gemma Davies
Regional Durable Solutions Secretariat

Solomon Wasia Masitsa
Forced Migration Program, Kituo Cha Sheria

Wairimu Munyinyi-Wahome
Norwegian Refugee Council

Melissa Philips
Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat

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