In what's being condemned as an utterly inhumane and disastrous move, Kenya will soon close all of its refugee camps. This includes Dadaab, a camp along the Kenya-Somalia border, which stands as the largest refugee camp in the world with over 300,000 people.
Kenya's government cited economic and security concerns, including terror-related threats from groups like Al Shabaab, as its motives for this controversial decision.
Karanja Kibicho, Kenya's secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, said,
Correspondingly, Mwenda Njoka, an interior ministry spokesman, stated,
It's not clear exactly when the refugee camps will be closed, but when they are, an estimated 600,000 people will be displaced.
Kenya is willingly displacing thousands upon thousands of people whose lives were ravaged by war, poverty and persecution.
Unsurprisingly, human rights groups strongly condemn this move, as it's arguably one of the most inhumane decisions regarding refugees in recent memory.
Speaking with The Independent, Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International's regional director in East Africa, stated,
Liesbeth Aelbrecht of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), expressed similar sentiments. She said,
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) is also taking a vehement stand against this, and Human Rights Watch asserts there is no "credible evidence" refugees in Kenya are linked to any terror-related threats or attacks.
As Liesbeth Aelbrecht put it, this is yet another example of the "blatant neglect" of millions of refugees worldwide.
We are currently witnessing the worst refugee crisis in recent history, largely due to ongoing conflicts like the devastating war in Syria. As of 2015, one in every 122 humans is either a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum, according to the UNHCR.
In this context, many would argue countries should be doing everything they can to help people whose lives were turned upside down by violence and destruction. Kenya, however, is planning to do the exact opposite.