New law gives hope to thousands of refugees

Thursday, November 18th, 2021 00:00 |
Dadaab Refugee Camp. Photo/COURTESY

Kenya has opened the doors for refugees residing in the country to enjoy among other rights, freedom to be employed and movement following the enactment of the Refugees law.

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday signed the Bill into law, which now gives hope to thousands of refugees residing in the country. The refugees were threatened with expulsion two years ago.

Kenya announced plans to shut down two refugee camps; Dadaab and Kakuma hosting over 430,000 refugees by June 2022.

However, the enactment of the new law,  means that the move to send home the refugees will be dropped.

Kenya said the refugee camps, have been turned into cauldrons of terror and a threat to national security.

Refugees will also be allowed to seek legal redress from the local courts in situations where one’s right is infringed.

Kenya’s commitment to refugees’ protection had come to a sharp focus, after the government ordered in February, 2019 the closure of refugee camps in the country.

“Refugee camps are not permanent features, they are supposed to be temporary facilities. How can we continue shouldering the burden for three decades?” Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’í said then.

The new Refugees Act, which had earlier been referred back to Parliament for reconsideration by the President, strengthens the management of refugees by consolidating provisions of several international legal instruments.

“The new law has opened doors to donors to include bodies under the United National High Commission for Refugees. Over $400 million will be pumped into the economy to help support the refugees residing and those coming into the country,” said Homabay MP Peter Kaluma; who is a member of Administration and National Security Committee. 

Kenya hosts over 520,000 refugees and asylum seekers, including more than 278,000 from Somalia and close to 133,000 from South Sudan, some 47,000 from DRC and 29,000 from Ethiopia.

Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps have been in operation since 1991, when Somalia plunged into civil war. 

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